Reminding student interns how to act outside of the office

June 26, 2012 at 8:21 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

It may be summertime, but the living shouldn’t be easy for your summer interns—either inside or outside of the office. In its ongoing series, Don’t Eff This Up:  The Complete Guide to Wall Street Internships, New York magazine offers valuable suggestions that you might want to pass on to your student interns—whatever their fields.  In Part 4 writer Kevin Roose says that “in addition to learning where to live, how to dress, and how to act on the job, you’re also going to have to learn how to spend your nights and weekends.”  Here are some pointers from Kevin’s article:

  • Be a joiner: If you’re lucky, your bank will have an intramural basketball team, or a running club, or some other form of athletic bonding activity. Do these things. They are a great way to impress people with your youthful vigor. If you’re a glutton for punishment, sign up for a Tough Mudder with your boss. (A Tough Mudder, for those new to the concept, is a hardcore, boot-camp-like endurance event in which you’re made to climb walls, plunge into ice-cold water, run through trenches filled with fire, and oh God I need a nap.)
  • Don’t be the ringleader: In every summer analyst class, one guy (it’s always a guy) steps up as the unofficial social chair. He signs group e-mails “party on,” organizes beer pong and trips to 230 Fifth, and keeps a photo of his frat brothers at his desk. He also doesn’t get an offer. Don’t be that guy.
  • Bro out when necessary: That said, building solid relationships with your fellow grunts is crucial. They will cover for you when you have a “dentist appointment” (read: free happy hour at Turtle Bay) or “out-of-town wedding” (read: your ex is in town for the night). So buy them a round every now and then. Just don’t “ice” anyone, ever, please.
  • Ace the booze cruise: Odds are, your firm will at some point treat you and your fellow summer analysts to an open-bar cruise around Manhattan. It’s a staple of Wall Street intern life, and by all means, feel free to drink. But don’t have too many. Here’s a good test: When the D.J. plays that “We Are Young” song, do you start tearing up while earnestly contemplating the carefree hours of your fleeting youth? You’ve had too many.
  • What if my boss hits on me? This is an actual Serious Thing That Sometimes Happens, and it is definitely out of our league, advice-wise. We’d suggest talking to a trusted mentor, going to HR, or trying to transfer groups. As we said yesterday, it’s not 1992 anymore — and it shouldn’t be for your boss, either.
  • Don’t lead with your job: When meeting non-finance people at bars around the city, don’t tell them where you work right away. It makes you sound insecure and desperate to impress. Instead, increase your mystique by holding off the reveal as long as possible.

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!

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.

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.

Q. Should I give permission to students who want to leave their internships early because they have to return to campus to participate in pre-term activities?

July 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Advising interns, career center | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. The answer to your question depends largely on what arrangements were agreed upon before the internships began. If students had told you ahead of time that they had to leave early, then you should not penalize them for following through with their plans. However, if you had no idea they would leave early, then you’re under no obligation to give permission. Here are a few points to consider when making your decision:

  • Discuss the nature of the pre-term activities with the students who unexpectedly ask to leave early. If it’s a great honor, such as being accepted to participate in an honors program or to study abroad, then you might want to congratulate the students and offer them your best wishes. In other cases, you might want to check with the director of the activities to find out how crucial it is that your student interns attend the pre-term activities.
  • Ensure that the request to leave early is a valid one. For example, students may have medical issues or family problems.  In the case of medical issues, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a copy of the medical report or the name and phone number of the doctor. The students’ advisors or professors may also be good resources if the reason to leave early is a personal one. You may be able to offer assistance in terms of counseling or financial aid to the student to help him/her in a difficult time.
  • Suggest alternate plans that could result in fulfilling the required amount of time for the internship without staying for the same length of time. For example, the student could put in longer days or work at home to complete the internship assignments. Talk with the internship supervisors at the companies to find out the company policies or alternate plans for interns that want to leave internships early. Some companies may be very understanding while others may take offense, which could harm your future relationships with that company. You may have taken years building up a strong internship program and are rightfully concerned about keeping it available for upcoming students.
  • Make sure that the students realize they might be hurting their own futures by leaving their internships early. They may have to balance pre-term activities, which seem important during the school years, with the long-term effects of a less than stellar internship record that could negatively impact their career goals. This is a tough decision for a student to make, and you might want to counsel him or her on how to proceed in order to protect his/her future and your career center’s reputation.

Q. What should I tell students who love their internships and don’t want to see them end? What are their options?

June 29, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. Happy interns are win-win situations for students, companies, and for you. It’s a promising start for a potentially long-term professional relationship for your student. Your role is to research the situation and come up with the best game plan for everyone involved. Here are a few tips not only to assess the current relationship but to also open doors for the future:

  • Find out if your intern has any specific ideas or plans on how to continue the internship. For example, would he/she be interested in working long-distance, utilizing technology and email, to extend the internship? Is there a particular assignment that the intern would like to perform for the company? Or is it even geographically possible to continue the internship or turn it into a part-time job?
  • After you understand your intern’s position and goals, explore the company’s situation with the intern supervisor. First, you’ll want to find out if there’s another intern scheduled to fill your student’s position. Then, you’ll need to discuss the company’s plans for your student intern. Would the supervisor like to retain the intern? If so, in what capacity? Onsite? Online? Paid or unpaid? Part-time employee? Different assignment?
  • If you discover that your intern and the intern supervisor are not on the same page, and your intern needs to refocus his/her sights, you might research other internships that would be similar and appeal to your student. You could point out to your intern that he/she might actually expand his/her career future by moving on and taking another internship with a different company. New contacts will increase networking opportunities for your student.
  • Another consideration is whether or not the student will receive credit for extending the same internship. How you counsel your intern may also depend on departmental policies. For example, does the department or your school honor cooperative education credits? Does your student intern’s academic advisor think it’s wise to extend an internship or continue it as a co-op? Or would the advisor recommend that the student choose a different internship in order to gain new experience? After you thoroughly research all the above questions, you’ll be ready to help your student intern make the right decision for a successful future.

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