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!

Q. Our career center is overwhelmed with students wanting internships. Any suggestions on how to streamline the process?

August 5, 2010 at 10:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. Many career centers around the country are experiencing the same overload as more and more students want multiple internship experiences. Historically, career centers have been able to spend individual time with each student, but many centers are now developing more efficient ways to deal with their larger numbers and still maintain quality service. Here are a few tips that might work for you: 

  • Group orientation sessions:  Utilizing the same format for freshmen orientation sessions, invite all students who intend to apply for internships to attend an orientation meeting early in the semester. Supply each student with an internship handbook, outlining the procedure. Introduce your staff and ask a former intern or two to discuss his/her experience. Also, provide a timetable with deadlines, so your office isn’t swamped at the last minute with students who want internships.

You may even want to distribute a list of companies with whom you work and the individual requirements, so students can evaluate their own readiness for each internship. If you’re planning an Internship Fair on campus, you could alert  students to be aware of the date, so they can put it on their calendars. 

  • Online applications:  Develop an online application with all the details that you need in order to enroll a student as a potential intern. Use your career center Web site to structure the internship process. You might want to include a sample resume, and then ask the student to customize the resume for himself/herself. You could also suggest that the student access the QuickBuild Resume on internships.com. for more help. Consider adding a Q & A section about internships on your Web site or start an Intern Coach blog.
  • Mentoring programs:  Students really appreciate connecting with other students who have had internship experiences already. Using the list of former and current interns, set up a mentoring system, matching potential interns with experienced ones. You might also find that current interns could benefit from linking up with former interns, especially if both share internship experience at the same company.
  • Career Center interns:  Increase the number of interns that you use in your own career center to help reduce your own workload. Many students are more comfortable taking their first internships on campus than in a strange environment, which means you should have an excellent pool of candidates. They also value the opportunity to have an “insider’s view” of available internships for future opportunities.  A well-trained intern can serve as the initial point of contact for students who are applying for internships.

Q. Students are lining up for fall internships. Any hot industries to suggest?

August 3, 2010 at 11:35 am | Posted in Finding internships | 1 Comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. Hot is the operative word after a summer of record-breaking heat in much of the country as well as the world.  Some fields of special interest are Global Warming, Sustainability, and on a lighter (and cooler) note, Scuba Diving. Internships.com has recently added thousands of new internships for your students, so please browse the new offerings after you check out the following: 

  • Global Warming:  Greenpeace, the leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful direct action and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions, is seeking unpaid interns for research, general administrative support, assistance with various projects, including organizational skills trainings, events or activities in the field, logistics, and other duties. Must be open to working with multiple campaigns and departments as needed: Global Warming, Forests, Oceans, Nukes, Research, Development, Communications, and Actions. Greenpeace has over 80 internships around the country listed on internships.com for positions ranging from Global Warming to Grassroots Organizing.
  • Sustainability:  Fairfood International is a non-profit campaign and lobby organization, which encourages the food and beverage industry to increase the level of sustainability of its products. Fairfood has divided the world into nine regions. Each of these has a small lobby office that actively approaches all food companies that have their international head office located in that region. The Lobby Department of Fairfood is currently recruiting interns for the position of Assistant Lobbyist Sustainability Food Companies. These interns help the lobbyist in stimulating food and beverage brand owners to increase the levels of sustainability and transparency associated with their companies. The deadline for these unpaid internships is Aug. 19. At least one internship is a virtual one, which may work well for a student during the fall term.
  • Scuba Diving:  The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the world leader in diver training education, is running a nationwide college Marketing internship program to promote scuba diving and the adventurous lifestyle of divers. Responsibilities include creating strategic marketing plans to attract college students to try scuba diving and become PADI Open Water Diver certified. Interns create their own marketing campaigns and test them in their local university markets. PADI provides resources and guidance. There are 26 locations in the country offering the internship, ranging from New York City to Denver, Colorado to Seattle, Washington. The application deadline for these unpaid with credit available internships is Aug. 18.

Q. How can I develop more internships for my students within one company when there’s so much competition among schools?

July 7, 2010 at 10:43 am | Posted in career center, Creating Internships | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. Good question! You’re right—there’s lots of competition as more and more schools realize the importance of internships. And your students want more and more opportunities in a company, which also puts pressure on you to develop more internships. Here are some tips to help you satisfy everyone’s needs: 

  • Build stronger relationships with the company, so the internship supervisor contacts you first when there’s an internship position. You can develop this relationship in several ways. Visit the site during your student’s internship and spend time talking to the internship supervisor as well as the Human Resources department. Take the internship supervisor to lunch if it is convenient. Present the internship supervisor or appropriate employee with a framed certificate of appreciation or a plaque from your college, which can be hung in his/her office. Such a visible gift raises the status of the recipient with other employees.
  • Make sure the internship process goes smoothly, minimizing work for the internship supervisor. Provide him/her with all the appropriate forms, including assessments, reports, sample reference letters, and an internship calendar. Resolve any issues, such as the intern is experiencing conflict with another employee, as quickly as possible without involving the internship supervisor, who is probably already overwhelmed with work. Write a letter to the internship supervisor’s boss, expressing the school’s appreciation for the excellent mentorship provided by the supervisor.
  • Select the best qualified intern for the company in which you want to develop more internships. Compare the intern’s work ethic and personality style with the corporate culture, ensuring a good match. Research the skills that will be needed in each internship and determine if your intern is adequately prepared. Instruct your intern in professional behavior, so he/she performs to the appropriate standards. You may have to turn down an intern’s request to work in a certain company if you feel that such a placement might damage your relationship with the company.
  • Explore other internship venues. Although you may want to develop more internships in one company, it’s wise to look around for other options, too. You could be the first school to approach a company that has never used interns and would be grateful for your help in establishing an internship program. You would have the ability to set up internships that you know would work well for your school and your students. Creating new internships can open lots of new doors for your students and lead to more networking opportunities for them and for you.

Internships.com at NACE 2010

June 8, 2010 at 11:00 am | Posted in NACE Conference | Leave a comment
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Internships.com made a splash at NACE 2010. To kickoff the conference, Robin Richards, Chairman and CEO of internships.com, introduced Keynote Speaker, Keith Ferrazzi, author, Never Eat Alone, and founder and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight. Keith gave an inspiring speech about the power of relationships and networks.

Spring 2010 Survey of Career Center Professionals” Released

The following morning, the results from the “Spring 2010 Survey of Career Center Professionals” were released during the Data and Danish breakfast. A spirited discussion by attendees followed the presentation of the results by Kenneth C. Green, Ph.D. Download a summary of the survey here.

Survey Sweepstakes Winner Announced

Participants of the “Spring 2010 Survey” were entered into a drawing to support the activities of their career center. The winner of the $1000 grant for their career center is Mark Brostoff, the Associate Dean and Director, Weston Career Center, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Pictured here from left to right are Shari Kern, Weston Career Center Associate Director for Technology; Sarah Decker, Weston Career Center Business Development Specialist; Mark Brostoff, our survey winner;  and Mason Gates of internships.com.

The entire team at internships.com would like to express how welcome we felt by everyone attending NACE and are happy to have been a part of it. It was exciting to meet the many faces that move this industry, catch up with old friends and develop new relationships.

The internships.com booth at NACE 2010.

Q. How can I explain to students that unpaid internships can be priceless because they are investing in their own futures?

June 1, 2010 at 11:48 am | Posted in Intern Compensation | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. This is a hot topic in the news right now, so it’s important to address it with your students immediately, whether they are currently doing internships or looking for fall internships. Consider sending an informative and reassuring email out to all your students involved in the internship process, explaining why unpaid internships can be priceless. You might want to send them a link to the Wall Street Journal article, May 18, 2010, “Creating Internships Out of Thin Air,” to validate your explanation. Here are several reasons you can give as to why unpaid internships are excellent investments: 

  • You receive letters of recommendation, which will help you get future internships, which may be paid. Count on having multiple internships, each one better than the previous one.
  • You may earn school credit, which will free up space in your academic program to take other courses (or more internships) or to concentrate on those time-intensive classes with long labs.
  • You could follow the advice of Colleen Sabatino, career coach at internships.com, who was quoted in the above Wall Street Journal article. She suggests that you ask the company about any options for pay, such as a stipend or even a part-time job at minimum wage. You may have to cut back your hours if you have to work in another job.
  • You could ask the Career Center if it has any funding available or knows of any government-related monies for internships. New opportunities come up all the time, so check federal and state sites often.
  • You also have career-related experience to strengthen your resume. Remember, it’s your resume that gets you the all-important interview. After a few unpaid internships, you can drop your high-school entries and add impressive professional experience, which will get you the interview.  Investments usually take a while to pay off, so start investing in yourself now.

Q. How can we support and monitor our summer interns?

May 20, 2010 at 11:52 am | Posted in career center, Intern Support, Preparing interns | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. Summer interns, especially those who are off campus, need to have safety nets built into their internship programs. Internships serve as great building blocks for future internships, so each internship has to be a successful experience. If you have lots of interns and limited staff capacity, you can use technology to stay in touch. Some ideas are: 

  • Weekly email newsletters: Send a weekly newsletter to each intern with campus news and helpful tips for interns on how to deal with specific situations or problems. A column by an intern would be motivational, too.
  • Daily or weekly reports:  Request daily or weekly email reports, depending on the length of the internship. Give each intern a form to follow when sending the report. The intern may want to keep a diary each day and simply send you a copy of the diary, which will help you monitor the intern’s progress and spot potential problems.
  • Webinars:  Hold a weekly webinar or online conference with your intern audience. You could introduce the Q & A format as well as acting as the speaker, addressing relevant topics.
  • Diversity resources:  Remember that your interns may be of different ethnic backgrounds and could benefit from links to international student groups that deal with work-related problems. Ethnicity is a sensitive area and your interns may be more comfortable discussing uncomfortable work issues with people who may have experienced similar situations.
  • On-site visits:  If possible, try to make an on-site visit at least once during the intern’s program. You can do double duty by visiting with both the internship manager and your intern and getting an accurate reading on how the internship is going.  You can also see first-hand the intern’s assignments and meet your intern’s colleagues. If you don’t like what you see, this is the perfect time to discuss—face-to-face with the internship manager—how to improve the situation. Even if your school doesn’t require on-site internship visits, you might want to schedule them anyway. Your interns will be happy to see you.

Q. What are some tips for instilling confidence in new interns?

May 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Preparing interns | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. Your question shows you’re a conscientious career counselor concerned about the success of your interns. You probably have already prepared materials for your interns, giving them helpful tips for a positive experience. However, many students are still nervous and unsure, especially if it’s their first internship. Here are some ways in which you can bolster their self-confidence to help them perform better: 

  • Arrange for each of your new interns to have a mentor who has already been an intern and can give some helpful advice. The mentor can be from any major or have interned in a different company as long as he/she is willing to share insights.
  • Set up an online support group for the new interns, enabling them to communicate among themselves during the internship period. They can ask questions about problems that arise on the internships and compare successes and challenges.
  • Emphasize that the interns are a select group and the Career Center is proud of them for being chosen. Organize a pre-internship meeting to honor the new interns. Be sure to serve light refreshments to create a celebratory mood. Former interns could address the group about their experiences followed by a Q & A session.
  • Present each new intern with an Intern Care package that could include a notebook, pen, breath mints, and a health bar. If the budget allows, include a university mug, tote bag, or t-shirt to demonstrate school support.
  • Review the skills that each intern will need at his/her internship site. If the intern’s skill level, such as IT skills, is not up to par, arrange for the intern to receive help before the internship begins. Confidence is often rooted in capability.
  • Let the new interns know that you or someone on your staff will be in contact with them on a regular basis. Set up the schedule ahead of time, allaying any intern fears of being isolated. Encourage the new interns to contact the office for advice. Assure the students that they will be successful and that they can count on the full support and resources of the Career Center.

Alumni: a rich and natural resource for students seeking internships

April 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Posted in alumni, career center, networking | 3 Comments
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by Jane Finkle

We all know that building a network is one of the key ways professionals discover work opportunities. Networking is a skill that students can develop and master as they seek out internships. Most college Career Offices maintain an online alumni career network. This dynamic resource helps students to explore their personal career interests with the guidance of alums. Students can also connect with alums who participate in college panels and programs. 

I have had many positive experiences working with students who take the initiative to contact alums and find this action often leads them to an exciting internship opportunity. Here are three cases that illustrate the power of alumni in supporting student career development. In each instance the relationship bloomed into internship possibilities. Please note that all three cases are women because of my career counseling experience at a women’s college!

First Case Study – Meeting alumni at career conferences

Susan attended a career conference in New York City, sponsored by her career office and featuring alums in a variety of professions. The alums were volunteers who were intent upon sharing their work experience and answering student questions. Susan was especially impressed by the work of one of the alumna in financial services. She engaged this alum in conversation asking her question about her career. The alumna was so impressed with Susan’s approach and personality, she arranged for Susan to interview for an internship at her firm.

Second Case Study – Alumni networking through college career center

Through her career office, Linda secured an externship (one week job shadowing program) with an alumna working at a high profile women’s magazine. Even though Linda followed this alumna for a week only, she volunteered to help on a project and conducted an informational interview to find out more about the alumna’s career background and accomplishments. The alumna was impressed by Linda’s initiative and genuine interest that she created a summer internship at the magazine for Linda.

Third Case Study – Online alumni career network

Joan was specifically interested in finding a summer internship related to City Planning. I suggested she use our online alumnae career network to see if she could find an alumna in the field to talk with about her summer goals. Joan located an alumna in the city planning field in California. Emailing this alum, Linda included a brief introduction and asked the alumna if she would be willing to talk with her via phone about her career. Joan also invited the alum to offer any suggestions for summer internships. The alumna agreed and provided Joan with substantial information on the best way to find a summer internship related to City Planning and also volunteered to circulate Linda’s resume at her organization.

It has been my experience that many students shy away from approaching or contacting alums. They worry about imposing upon alums or are not sure about the best way to take advantage of alum’s expertise. When they express their angst about connecting with alum, I see it as counseling moment; an opportunity to not only alleviate their fears but also teach and provide guidance. Suggestions such as how to write an appropriate email or make a phone call to the alum are usually helpful, along with aiding them in forming questions that would engage the alum and also provide the student with valuable information.

Alumni are indeed a rich and natural resource for students. They remember their own college experience, both the triumphs and failures and these memories inspire them to reach out and support students from their alma mater. When we teach students to connect with alums during their internship search they experience firsthand the power of networking and sometimes end up with a great summer internship.

Make flexibility an internship mantra in the down economy

March 10, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Posted in Finding internships, Job market | Leave a comment
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by Kathryn Jordan, Ph.D.

There is a new economic reality facing college graduates in spring 2010.  Last year students entered the job market in the worst recruiting season in over twenty years according to statistics cited by the National Association of College and Employers.  More candidates are available for the fewer employment options and salary offers are down.  The new reality is evidence of the rapid changes that have occurred in work environments.  Adapting to change is related to a person’s ability to embrace other options, and flexibility will be a key to success. 

The importance of securing internships has only increased as the economy has changed.  The latest statistics show that employers are anticipating hiring more interns this season. Students and others in career transition this year will want to leverage their internship experiences to enhance chances for full time permanent employment. Following a few key points will lead to success even in a difficult market:

  • Pursue a variety of organizational internship targets
  • Seek opportunities to gain new and different skills or certifications
  • Consider unpaid internships and supplement income with part-time jobs
  • Open the geographic target zone.

We know that internships are now arguably a necessity for students, and many are considering post graduate internships as a way to launch into a permanent employment option. So when setting internship goals this season consider how important it is to complete multiple internship experiences. Employers like to see not just one internship experience but several paraprofessional experiences. Experience is a gold standard in the workplace. 

Explore a variety of internship targets and expand interests beyond those big well known businesses and widen options to consider government, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurial options.  This is critical in an environment when old reputations are being dashed.   Consider a wider variety of organizations by size.  More opportunities will exist in small and mid-size organizations than at some of the larger businesses that are waiting for market improvement before adding staff.  Also, in smaller organizations you can find richer and broader experiences than in some big formalized internship programs.

If an internship opportunity presents itself where it is possible to learn a new skill, grab it.  In a work environment where job titles and the methods of doing jobs change with the speed of technology, it is advisable to add new skills each year and to embrace these changes.  An internship that can expand skills and provide accomplishments for a portfolio is invaluable.  New skill development may be one of the biggest benefits from any good internship–even more important than the pay scale.

Be flexible when evaluating internships and do not rely on the hourly pay as the single determining criteria for the internship.  While being paid is important, it may be that significant experience, responsibilities, skills, and accomplishments can be found in organizations that are not in a position to pay an intern.  Many interns supplement their incomes by working a part-time job.

Expand the geographic target zone for an internship. Consider local, regional, national, and international options and how a variety of cultural experiences could broaden expertise.  Markets in China, Africa, Russia, and the Middle East are now just a mouse click away.  The ability to work effectively within different social, economic, and cultural milieus is becoming more important each year.  In fact the worldwide recession is evidence of how quickly the world has become closely interrelated.  Interns should look for experiences that stretch their normal boundaries and comfort zones.  

This changing economy is an opportunity for students to push their professional life forward with internship experience. Embracing change with flexibility will allow students to find a silver lining while they grow as professionals.

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