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.

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