Helping interns transition from campus to workplace

September 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

The recent Labor statistics just came in, showing unemployment still at a flat 9.1%. On a positive note other statistics show that internships play a critical role in the job search. NACE found that employers will get approximately 40 percent of their new college hires for 2011 from their internship and co-op programs. Those student interns who become new employees have learned how to transition successfully from campus to workplace.

Here are a few tips to pass onto your current interns to maximize their chances of becoming part of that 40%:

  • Cell phone and email etiquette:  Your student interns may think that they should demonstrate ability to multitask by going to meetings, answering cell phone calls, and texting simultaneously. Neuroscientists report that humans can barely attend to more than one stimulus at a time and have extreme difficulty undertaking multiple tasks concurrently. Emphasize to your students that paying attention to your computer or electronic gadget while talking to someone is rude, regardless of the industry. As one business owner explained to his intern in his first hour on the job: “In a professional environment it’s never a good idea to ignore your clients, boss or anyone else when you’re having a conversation. Doing so says your time is more valuable than their time.”
  • Reality checks:  Rowan University journalism professor and internship coordinator Kathryn Quigley made a 4-minute movie about an aspiring journalism intern who doesn’t have any clips — he does, however, have a poem about death that he’d like to send to editors. Prof. Quigley says that she loves her students and they do well at their internships, but sometimes their questions before starting an internship just make her shake her head. She created the video to be funny, not mean, as well as to make a few points. “An internship is supposed to expand your world and teach you new things. Intern work is about learning, not showing off. Lower your expectations. You can do it – have a little confidence.” Your Career Center may not have such a video, but you could assign a mentor to each intern and set up an intern online chat room to encourage reality checks, helping interns transition more smoothly from campus to workplace.
  • Time Management:  You can support student efforts by providing them with a semester calendar and directions to fill in important dates such as class times and holidays as well as study hours.  They’ve probably already worked out their internship schedule to be compatible with class requirements. Let them know it would not be helpful to their future careers to keep changing the internship hours.  If necessary, suggest that your students delete activities and concentrate on their internships. If they’re having difficulties keeping a part-time job along with the internship, suggest financial aid options for them. Establish a set time for your interns to report their progress on their internships, whether it’s a weekly report or an online diary.

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