Advising students to start looking for fall internships

July 23, 2012 at 11:09 am | Posted in Advising interns, Intern Advice, Intern Support | Leave a comment

Your students may be on vacation, but Internships. com works 24/7, offering 56,472 internship opportunities in nearly 23,000 companies in over 8,500 cities. Why not send email reminders to your students to study the Web site and start to put together a list of potential fall internships?  If a student is unsure about what area to pursue, you might suggest the Internship Predictor as a helpful tool to zero in on an industry. You could encourage your students to look now by sharing the following tips from Doug Stites in the Lansing State Journal on how to search for a fall internship:

Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg,500 cities. Why not send email reminders to your students to study the Web site and start to put together a list of potential fall internships?  If a student is unsure about what area to pursue, you might suggest the Internship Predictor as a helpful tool to zero in on an industry. You could encourage your students to look now by sharing the following tips from Doug Stites in the Lansing State Journal on how to search for a fall internship:

  • If this is your first internship, be open to an unpaid experience: After getting one internship under your belt, you’ll be a more desirable candidate for a more competitive, paid internship that often includes more responsibility. Look into the option of earning college credit through an internship as well.
  •  Use your network, on and offline: Utilize your network of personal, professional and academic circles as an internship resource. They may know something that might be a good fit and if you don’t ask, you might not hear about it.
  • Customize your resume and cover letter for each company: Companies expect the same level of professionalism from internship candidates as they do for any other position.
  • Attend events to network with employers: Job and internship fairs through your local college offer ideal opportunities to make a positive first impression. Attend networking events and take the initiative to meet new employers and connect with professionals in your field of interest. Dress to impress, regardless if the event requires professional dress or not and bring extra copies of your resume. Students should also consider printing their own business cards, which is an affordable way to easily share contact information with recruiters if they aren’t accepting resumes at events.

As a career services professional, you could add a few of your own suggestions, including the following:

  • Consider time and place:  Decide how many hours you want to put into your fall internship and where you want to do your internship. If you have transportation issues, you could consider taking an internship on campus in a department that is relevant to your career interests. A virtual internship may be a good choice, allowing you to stay on campus but “work” anywhere in the country.
  • Visit your campus career center either online or in person:  A career center is always adding new internships to its growing list of companies. Make an appointment and find out the latest opportunities and how to apply for them. Before you come, update your resume with summer activities and cover letter to demonstrate your professionalism. Talking to other students who have taken internships could also be helpful because they might be able to recommend an internship to you.

Job search advice for your international students who want to work in the U.S. after graduation.

October 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Posted in Intern Support | 3 Comments
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Jessica Noonan

By Jessica Noonan

Many of the international students who travel to the U.S. for continuing education hope to remain in the States after graduation to gain professional experience with an American company. Each year these students conduct their job searches as domestic students do: identifying desired positions and companies, crafting resumes and cover letters, attending career fairs, and hopefully networking. Because international students have the added challenge of requiring H1B visa sponsorship, they need to conduct a strategic job search that begins early, involves a lot of research and even more networking.

Here are some tips for helping your international students as they work to secure U.S. employment and the H1B:

  • Pursue Internships. For international students with no relevant work experience, internships can play an important role in securing employment and H1B sponsorship. Offering professional experience and resume building opportunities, internships also help International students to experience American business techniques and business culture, internships provide opportunities for students to practice their English and help students to build a professional network. (**Students must check with their on-campus international student office, to learn about their eligibility to participate in an internship).
  • Network! All job seekers encounter the challenge that nearly 80% of all jobs in the U.S. are part of the hidden job market. International students have the added challenge, that of these “hidden” positions, only a small portion hire International students. To gain access, International students should utilize Alumni networks and talk with classmates and colleagues who have been successful in their job search approaches. LinkedIn.com can be very helpful to students in identifying professionals for informational interviews.
  • Identify Companies who’ve sponsored H1B visas in the past. This applies to both internships and after graduation jobs. In addition to information received through networking, students can tap into resources such as: http://www.immihelp.com/h1b-sponsoring-companies-database/. This free resource allows students to search for employers who’ve submitted H1B petitions by location, employer and/or job title. Students should also check out their on-campus job search sites and look through the lists of Career Fair participants (career centers will usually include this information when available).
  • Become an H1B Expert. Students should be prepared to answer employers’ questions about the process. When the employer hears a student talk about the process confidently, it can increase their confidence in hiring the student, and undergoing the H1B process.

Finding resources to support fall internship requests

August 25, 2011 at 7:49 am | Posted in Intern Support | Leave a comment
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Susan Sandberg

Memories of summer vacations are fading fast as your campus springs to life again. Your office may be one of the first stops for returning students who are anxious about obtaining the perfect fall internship. Over the summer Internships.com has built its internship offerings to nearly 47,000 postings from over 22,000 companies in 1,800 cities. By directing your students to these listings, you’ll be able to help them better understand the broad scope of the internship marketplace. For support in managing your growing volume of internship requests, consider these other resources:

  • Community support:  An anonymous donor who wanted to improve the Baltimore community by having students work in area nonprofits donated $1.25 million to fund the new Johns Hopkins Community Impact Internships program run by the university’s Center for Social Concern. The student program paired 25 students with 25 Baltimore nonprofit, community-based organizations. Each student received a $5,000 stipend. At the end of this summer, the inaugural program had proved successful. You might be able to encourage similar community support in your own city.
  • Professional support:  Nathan Shelby of the Jackson-based law firm Rainey, Kizer, Reviere and Bell was recognized for his leadership efforts this summer during the inaugural year of the Law Student Judicial Internship Program. He with the help of colleagues placed 44 law students under the supervision of 43 judges across the state of Tennessee. Shelby is the chairman of the Membership & Law School Outreach Committee and the Judicial Internship Program.
  • Alumni support:  Ottawa developer Wes Nicol has donated $1 million to Carleton University to help support business-minded students to develop as entrepreneurs. The donations will create the Nicol Entrepreneurial Institute which will oversee paid internships and be open to undergraduate and graduate students from all faculties. Lawyer and businessman Nicol, a 1954 Carleton graduate, said he hopes the institute will reward hard work and creativity. It’s a good time to check with your alumni office on campus about potential alumni gifts to support internships.
  • University support:  Area business owners have the opportunity to participate this fall in a new internship program that will match University of Houston-Victoria business students with employers in their chosen major. The School of Business Administration is partnering with the university’s Career Services Office to administer the venture. Career Services has placed hundreds of UHV students in local jobs, but this is the university’s first paid internship program. Full-time and part-time internships may take place throughout the year, but most are expected to last for one semester.
  • Document support:  Students need resumes, cover letters, and references to apply for internships. As a busy educator, you could receive document support from Internships.com programs, such as QuickBuild Cover Letter or resume samples as well as informative hand-outs to educate your students about internship responsibilities. To learn more about these resources, go to Internships.com and review Educator Quick Guide, Useful Sample Documents, and Premium Educator Resources for more help.

Finding resources to share responsibility for intern success

June 30, 2011 at 8:00 am | Posted in Intern Support | Leave a comment
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Susan Sandberg

As a career services professional, you may be overwhelmed by the increasing volume of student interns who want your help. Since more and more students want internships, consider lining up resource partners to support your mission of a quality internship for every student. Here are a few tips to build alliances and share responsibility:

  • Professional alliances:  Joyce Lain Kennedy in a recent blog on the Chicago Tribune Web site recommended “finding internship opportunities on a new website, internships.com/group/shrm. The site is an alliance between Internships.com, a large internship marketplace, and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the dominant human resource management association.”  The alliance works well, too for SHRM, which believes that students embarking on HR careers will want access to SHRM resources to help build a HR knowledge base for success in the first job and throughout their careers. Maximize such partnerships with professional organizations to offer your students assistance and to share responsibility for student success.
  • University alliances:  Universities world-wide are developing alliances with local entities to build stronger internship and career connections. A recent example is Zayed University and Dubai Airport Freezone, which have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote cooperation in employment, internships and training and research. According to the terms of the MoU, Zayed University students will gain priority access to temporary and permanent positions within Dubai Airport Freezone, provided they meet specific job requirements of the free zone. Available roles will range from internship and summer work opportunities to full time employment. Zayed University students will also be able to participate in recruitment events like job shadowing and mentor programs.
  • Intern-Supervisor alliances:  Supervisors are your main support during student internship. By now, you should be getting first reports from both your summer interns and their supervisors.  If the intern supervisor contacts you or you see something disquieting in your intern’s reports, then you have to sort out the problems. It may be easier to keep track of your intern through the intern supervisor who will appreciate your active interest in your intern’s success. A written document, defining the roles and responsibility in an internship, could clarify the issues. This document should be created during the first week of the internship and signed by the supervisor and the intern.  Your role is to make sure each party understands his/her responsibilities and follows through appropriately.
  • Student-Parent-Career Center alliances:  Your summer interns are busy learning how to adapt to the world of work, which includes taking responsibility for those own actions, too. An insecure student will want your help while a self-confident student may resent your advice. Unless you see a reason to change a student’s behavior, you may want to give your interns space to grow as individuals. Parents also come into the equation, especially if students are living at home while doing summer internships.  Parents’ expectations may be unrealistic or they may be concerned that their child is not treated fairly at his/her internship.  If your college interns complain to parents—who then complain to you—you’ll be responsible for explaining the situation and resolving it.
  • Please keep in mind that there is not a right or wrong way to measure how much responsibility you should take for your college interns. But keep in mind that the more alliances you build, the more support you’ll have for a successful experience for everyone involved.

Evaluating a student’s internship performance

June 28, 2011 at 8:00 am | Posted in Intern Support | 1 Comment

Susan Sandberg

Your students are busy at their summer internships, and you may hear little from them. However, it’s important to find out if they’re experiencing any difficulties, so you can offer tips for improvement while it’s still fairly early in their internships. Here are several tips to help you track your interns’ performance:

  • Weekly reports:  If you’re already receiving a daily or weekly journal report from the intern, you can assess your student’s performance by reviewing that document. However, if your center, like many others, only requires an end-of-internship report, then you might want to schedule a weekly email exchange to ensure that you are able to assess a student’s performance and offer tips on improvement in a timely manner. Compare the student’s reports, whether online or in a journal, with the description of the internship provided by the company. The two should be fairly close matches. If you note discrepancies, you might have to sort out a problem or find out if company expectations have changed.
  • Performance surveys:  Develop a brief survey based on performance questions and send appropriate versions to both the student and the intern supervisor. Review the answers to discover any performance issues and follow up with helpful tips to the respondents. A survey can be a comfortable, non-threatening way to reveal problems, avoiding face-to-face confrontation. If the survey raises questions, follow the survey up with a phone call to the internship supervisor, inquiring as to how your student could add more value to the company. Then, communicate your findings to your student.
  • Communication:  Plan an on-site visit if geographically possible. Your visit demonstrates your sincere interest in your student’s success and in the company’s satisfaction with the intern. Arrange a meeting with the student and supervisor, so you can evaluate their interactions. If you find dissatisfaction on either side, you may be able to decide if it is based on personal conflict rather than professional issues. If an on-site visit is not practical, you might want to make sure the student intern and the supervisor have your phone number, where they can reach you easily. You may even have a designated email address for your interns and supervisors, emphasizing the importance of their communications and creating a comfort zone for everyone.

Getting calls already from overwhelmed summer interns?

June 23, 2011 at 8:00 am | Posted in Intern Support, Summer internships | Leave a comment

Susan Sandberg

Your students headed off to their summer internships full of enthusiasm, but after the first week many feel overwhelmed. How do you convince them not to quit and reassure them that their internships will be rewarding experiences? Here are some ways that you can respond to calls for help:

  • Emphasize positive benefits:  The internship could lead to a job. The Career Center Director at University of South Florida says hiring interns is an emerging trend among employers and their approach to internships is to treat them as entry-level job positions, whereas previously, “students would have internships and then move on.” According to a NACE survey, 75.8 percent of hires drawn from an employer’s own internship or co-op program were retained, compared to 60.7 percent for hires without internship or co-op experience after one year.
  • Identify the problem:  First, set aside some phone time to talk with him/her and find out exactly what is overwhelming your intern. Is it the heavy workload or the office technology? Is it the more experienced interns or an uncommunicative supervisor? Or is it such a large company that he/she feels lost and insignificant? Or is it homesickness if the intern is living far from home or a personal problem? Together, you and the intern could compile and rate a list of reasons that are causing this unsatisfactory situation.
  • Brainstorm solutions:  The resolution may be as simple as getting instruction on an unfamiliar computer system or it might be as complicated as arranging a new assignment. Your assistance is key to getting the intern back on track. Your intern’s parents will also appreciate your successful intervention. Your students may find strength and humor, too, in reading blogs by other interns, such as Eye of the Intern on internships. com in which interns report on the trials and tribulations of internship life.
  • Enlist resources:  You may need to enlist additional resources to help solve your intern’s crisis. If you deem the situation as dire, arrange for a school mental health counselor to talk to your intern. YourCareerCenter may also have an intern online or phone center with 24-hour assistance. Another avenue of support may be in finding a mentor for your overwhelmed student. An experienced intern who may have interned at that same company would be an excellent choice.
  • Consider on-site visits:  Depending on your schedule and the internship site location, you could visit the company and your distressed intern to offer support and to talk with the supervisor on how to quickly correct the problems. When you visit, you might want to give your student an inspirational guide for interns or even a care package with some treats.
  • Do damage control:  If your student is truly unhappy, you might have to accept that the internship is not a good fit. It’s better to do damage control early on rather than end up with a miserable student as well as a disgruntled intern supervisor who may be reluctant to take future interns from you. If you find yourself in this situation just when you’re going on summer vacation, suggest your student go to internships.com to explore options and connect with other employers offering internships. More than 12,675 University of South Florida students are registered with internships.com, more than any other school. Your students may benefit, too.

Q. How can I prevent a student from leaving an internship when such an incident would reflect poorly on my school?

June 24, 2010 at 10:15 am | Posted in Intern Support | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. First, take a look at the scenario from various viewpoints before making a decision and taking action.

  • Talk to the intern. Find out why your intern wants to leave his/her internship. If it’s a personal problem that is affecting performance, suggest that the intern see a school counselor to resolve the issue. If it’s a conflict with a co-worker, you may be able to have the intern switched to another department. Evaluate the validity of the intern’s concerns and decide on the next step.
  • Talk to the supervisor. Ask the intern supervisor to weigh in on the situation and offer any insight that could help you understand why your intern is unhappy with the internship. You may find that the intern supervisor is dissatisfied with the intern and would appreciate your help in removing the intern from the position. Or the intern supervisor may suggest a more positive solution to the problem, resulting in keeping the intern.
  • Evaluate the problem. Review both conversations and organize the facts. If you feel that the best solution for all parties involved is to terminate the current intern’s position, then it’s your responsibility to take that action. Make sure to let the intern supervisor know you hope to place future interns with the company.
  • Make an informed decision. Remember that a student leaving an internship is not necessarily a poor reflection on your school. It’s better to terminate a bad situation than let it build into a major conflict area, which could then reflect poorly on your school. Your proactive response and effective solution to the problem will win praise from all parties and reflect well on your school and on you.

Q. How much responsibility should I take in ensuring the success of our college interns?

June 22, 2010 at 10:52 am | Posted in career center, Intern Support | 1 Comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. When making a decision about taking responsibility for individual students and their internship success  you should consider your school’s overall philosophy regarding how much responsibility students should take for their activities and how much responsibility the school should assume.

Consider these factors:

  • Individual professional style: Your own philosophy comes into play here, too, since you serve as a role model and mentor for your students. If you’re an independent person and take ownership of your decisions, then your students may model their behaviors after you. If you approach your work as a collaborative effort and your decisions are team-based, your interns may become more comfortable working within that style.
  • Individual intern style: Aside from the school philosophy and your own professional style, you need to evaluate each individual intern. An insecure student will want your help while a self-confident student may resent your advice. Unless you see a reason to change a student’s behavior, you may want to give your interns space to grow as individuals.
  • Parental involvement: Parents also come into the equation. They realize that an internship is very important to their child’s future, so if parents get involved they will bring their own set of expectations and possibly even issues.
  • Intern supervisor’s involvement: If the intern supervisor contacts you or you see something disquieting in your intern’s reports, then you have to sort out the problems. It may be easier to keep track of your intern through the intern supervisor who will probably appreciate your active interest in your intern’s success.
  • Balancing act: Please keep in mind that there is not a right or wrong way to measure how much responsibility you should take for your college interns. You have to balance the school, yourself, the intern, the parents, and the intern supervisor and come up with the right formula. If in doubt, it would be wise to take charge, especially if any problems would reflect badly on your school and consequently yourself.  
  • Written document defining roles: A written document, defining the roles and responsibility in an internship, could clarify the above issues. Then, make sure your student intern reads the document before starting an internship and also signs it as an acknowledgement of understanding who takes responsibility. You may want to sign it, too, as an affirmation of the agreement and as a protection against misplaced blame.

Q. Any tips on how a student can improve his/her relationship with a difficult boss?

June 11, 2010 at 11:21 am | Posted in Intern Support | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. Getting along with one’s boss is key to a successful internship. Be grateful that your student has confided in you that he/she is having issues with their boss because then you can take steps to fix the problem before it spirals out of control. Here are some tips: 

  • Talk with your student to find out what the problems are in order to determine if they are personal issues, such as the boss isn’t friendly (or is too friendly) or constantly finds fault with your student, or if the complaints are related to assignments, such as not enough information, unrealistic deadline expectations etc. Make sure that your student isn’t leaving early or taking long breaks, which may irritate the boss.
  • Next, if you know the so-called “difficult” boss, consider how accurate your student’s claims are about that person. If you don’t know the boss, see what you can find out from former interns or from your contacts at the company. Now you can sort out the root of the problem and come up with solutions.
  • If the student is being overly sensitive about how the boss treats him/her, you could do some role playing with the student to help him/her react appropriately to challenging situations. Let the student play the “difficult” boss, and you can demonstrate how best to deal with each issue. You can do this online or by phone.
  • If you’ve discovered that the “difficult” boss is having a hard time for either personal or work-related issues, such as going through a divorce, being short staffed, or intimidated by company layoffs, ask your student not take the behavior of the boss personally.
  • To improve the work relationship, your student may have to be proactive. He/she can ask the boss for feedback on a completed assignment, thank the boss for guidance, and ask the boss for more projects. The intern may even ask the boss how he/she can improve performance at the internship, illustrating commitment.
  • The student could also volunteer to stay late at work or come in for an extra day if there’s a rush job or deadline. The “difficult” boss may turn into an appreciative mentor who will gladly write a glowing recommendation for your student.

Q. What should I do about a student who says he/she is bored and wants to change internships?

June 9, 2010 at 10:15 am | Posted in Intern Support | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. First, you need to find out why your student is “bored.” It may be as simple as “having a bad day.” Then explore the following options to resolve the problem:

  • Contact the student’s intern supervisor to find out how the student is doing at the internship. If he/she is failing to perform the assignments, “bored” may mean the student finds the assignments too difficult and is using boredom as an excuse for feeling inadequate. You may be able to arrange additional help for your intern.
  • If the student is breezing through with high praise at the internship, “bored” may mean that the internship is too easy. You could suggest that the intern ask for more challenging assignments to eliminate the boredom.
  • Explore the possibility with your “bored” student that he/she may enjoy the internship duties but may not like the co-workers or the department. If that’s the case, you may have to counsel your intern on how to adjust to working with different kinds of people and resolve his/her negative feelings. If that doesn’t work, you could intercede and ask the intern supervisor if your intern could be transferred to a different department.
  • If you discover that your intern actually is “bored” because he/she strongly dislikes the company itself, which could be due to policies, products, or philosophies, then you might have to help your student find another internship.
  • It would be wise not to share with the company that your intern was “bored” or in reality disliked the company. Instead, you may be able to diplomatically say it wasn’t a good fit. You’ll probably find the company will be relieved since it probably sensed the intern was unhappy.
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