Publicizing your students’ achievements in their summer internships

August 7, 2012 at 9:39 am | Posted in Assessing student performance | Leave a comment

Don’t be modest about your students’ achievements in their summer internships. Your colleagues at other colleges aren’t.  Since internships are the hot buzz word in the national media, you can capture some positive press for your school and help raise your brand awareness for the next round of internships fast-approaching in the fall.

The following excerpts illustrate how some career service offices are effectively promoting their image and their students:

  • Texas Christian University:  One TCU sophomore is doing more than making copies and answering phones at her summer internship. Strategic communication major Casey Walker spoke with various celebrities about products and clients, took pictures and made conversation all Sunday night at the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles, CA. Walker is spending her summer interning with both Pivotal PR and Ralina Shaw PR in L.A. Walker said she researched different PR firms in California and interviewed with Michael Gerbin of Pivotal. After beginning her job with Gerbin, Walker said she overheard him talking about a friend in desperate need of an intern. Walker then volunteered for the part and took on two summer internships in the city. “I’m so blessed to have this opportunity so early on in my career,” Walker said. “It’s so beneficial to get the internship experience while still in school.” Although working in the gifting suite during the award show prevented Walker from being able to watch the show, she did have some memorable moments of her own. “I didn’t get to see what I was hoping to see,” Walker said. “No experience is a bad experience, even if it doesn’t quite live up to my expectations.” Walker said she had the opportunity to talk to a castmate from the MTV show “Awkward” and his girlfriend. The three even made plans to reconnect in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and to even catch a TCU sporting event, Walker said.
  • Gustavus Adophus College:  In today’s competitive job market, the importance of obtaining and successfully completing a summer internship has grown for college students as they look to enhance their resume in order to entice future employers. Gustavus students are stationed all over the world this summer completing a variety of diverse and prominent internships. One of the leading academic departments on campus when it comes to summer research and internships is the Physics Department. Here is a summary of what 15 physics majors are up tothis summer:
    • Jenna Legatt ’14 is interning this summer at the National Institute of Standards and Technologies in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Legatt is working in the Physical Measurement Lab at this large federal research lab for the sciences. “My project involves set-up of a device called a spatial light modulator (SLM),” Legatt said. “My job is to work with my advisor to prepare the optics and software to get this tool working. One application in my specific project is to create a striped or grid pattern with the SLM, project it onto an object, and analyze the pattern’s deformalities to reconstruct the object in 3D.”
    • Laura Dahl ’13 is spending the summer working at Bosch Security Systems, Inc., as a Loudspeaker Engineering Intern in the Pro Sound Division. Dahl is working alongside loudspeaker engineers to create, design, and test Electro-Voice loudspeakers. “My main project consists of working in MATLAB to try to optimize line array elements for different event venues including Target Center and several outdoor stadiums,” Dahl said.
  • Arkansas Tech University:  Nine Arkansas Tech University students are spread out across the country learning more about the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through a variety of internship opportunities this summer. The internships were arranged through the efforts of Dr. Mostafa Hemmati, professor of physics and director of the Arkansas Tech Office of Undergraduate Research; and Dr. Patricia Buford, associate professor of electrical engineering and head of the Department of Electrical Engineering. Obtaining internship opportunities for students with organizations such as NASA and the National Science Foundation is one aspect of Arkansas Tech’s commitment to STEM education. In 2011, Gov. Mike Beebe outlined the importance of the STEM fields to Arkansas’ economic development. “The STEM fields offer stable, well-paying careers for the 21st century, and the demand continues to grow at a rapid pace,” said Gov. Beebe in a news release from his office on Aug. 17, 2011. “These are positions that companies are struggling to fill, even in tough economic times. If we are to continue to attract these types of companies to Arkansas, we must prepare our young people with high-tech skills and build a workforce that will help our state prosper.”

Q. What is my role in checking up on our college interns? Is it appropriate for me to call the supervisors or visit the site?

June 17, 2010 at 10:40 am | Posted in Assessing student performance | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. Your role continues to expand as an increasing number of students sign up for internships. Also, you’re probably working with more companies than ever before as you try to help students find new internships. Most career centers combine a focus on internships and counseling services. And the intern, especially if he/she is a freshman attempting a first internship, often needs to have counseling in order to be successful at the internship. Here are tips on how to handle your evolving role: 

  • Internship supervisors usually appreciate phone calls from their intern’s career center. However, it’s a sign of respect to find out ahead the most convenient time for the supervisor to take calls. You could even schedule a weekly phone call for a 10-minute update on your student’s performance. If the supervisor feels that he/she has your support, the company is more likely to be responsive to your requests to take on more interns in the future.
  • Be available to your intern and the intern supervisor. Let them both know your hours of availability, phone numbers, and email address, so either one can contact you immediately if a problem arises. You could also send inspirational cards or notes to your intern at work. If your student is struggling with personal issues that are impacting the internship, you’ll be able to connect him/her to counselors at your career center.  
  • You probably have the dual responsibility to check up on your college interns and your internship companies. You may be able to do both at the same time by making on-site visits. Some schools provide travel money for school personnel to go to a city, especially if there are multiple internship sites. Then you can schedule visits with both the intern and the supervisor at each location.
  • An on-site visit is desirable because you can talk face-to-face with the intern and supervisor, interpreting body language in order to accurately evaluate the success of the internship. You may have to run interference or mediate between the intern and the supervisor, so it’s important to understand the logistics. For example, if the supervisor complains that the intern is always late for work, you may be able to point out that public transportation is unreliable and perhaps the company could help the student carpool with other employees.

Q. How can I assess a student’s performance in order to offer tips on improvement?

June 15, 2010 at 11:32 am | Posted in Assessing student performance | Leave a comment
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by the Intern Coach

A. You have several options. 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 initiate an email tracking system to ensure that you are able to assess a student’s performance and offer tips on improvement in a timely manner. Here are a few other ways in which career centers assess performance: 

  • Compare the student’s reports, whether online or in a journal, with the written 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 the problems or find out if the company expectations have changed.
  • Set up a phone appointment with the internship manager at your student’s intern site and ask him/her to rate your student’s performance. Inquire as to how your student could add more value to the company. Then, communicate your findings to your student.
  • 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 manager, 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.
  • 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.

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