Own the internship process

March 19, 2010 at 9:24 am | Posted in alumni, career center, networking | Leave a comment
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by Beverly T. Lorig

Q: Which student gets the great internship in this competitive market?  

Choose one — The student with:

    A) Highest GPA
    B) Study Abroad
    C) Family connections
    D) Technical Major
    E) Determined Persistence

A: Without a doubt, it is E) Determined Persistence. Couple that with a well prepared resume/cover letter/application and it’s sure success. 

I spoke with a CEO this past week, and she emphasized that the student “must own the process”  with a determined and well-organized internship plan-of-action.  Many students turn their internship search over to the multiple mega job boards.  After submitting the tens or hundreds of resumes, the student believes he/she is done.  Next step?  Sit and wait.  And wait and wait.

So, in this day of keen competition and limited opportunities, challenge your students to get active. Define the prospect pool.  Develop a list of connections and networks that enhance the application. Write and telephone and meet with the contacts with the goal of gaining knowledge and advice.  Write an informed cover letter and resume focused on outcomes.  Follow-up with the internship coordinator and ask for an interview.

Bottom line:  Own the Process. 

Consider your own business or career center.  I don’t know about you but I find the very best candidates are the ones who are HUNGRY to work with me in the Washington and Lee Career Services program.  In my book, the candidate who actively pursues the position ultimately wins!

Getting the perfect internship

March 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Posted in Internship offers, Job market | Leave a comment
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by Troy D. Nunamaker

It’s no surprise that competition for internships, full-time jobs, and even part-time summer jobs is at an all time high right now. We’re working with our Clemson students, edging them to ramp up their internship application efforts—apply early and use superior materials.  

This year, there are a number of seniors and recent graduates who are applying for the same internship positions that a sophomore or junior would typically go after. At my institution, we have even seen some seniors extending graduation dates by applying to do an internship at the end of their academic career. This gives them more resume-building material and provides additional time before entering the full-time job market. On the other side of this influx in internship applicants, we have seen companies require those traditional training and skill sets at a higher caliber. Just having the basic knowledge, skills, and attitude is no longer enough to get the internship offer. Students we are working with now need to show that they can exceed the knowledge, skills, and attitude requirements of the position.

Thus, our younger students looking for an internship have to distinguish themselves from their peers and from older students and recent grads–showing the recruiter on resumes and in interviews that they have the skills, training and an overall good attitude about the position and their professional career. These things seem to go a long way towards getting an internship offer even in a rough economy.

Lastly, we have been telling students not to stop the search process after the resume has been submitted, or the interview has occurred. We coach and re-coach our students to: follow up. . . find a phone number to call to make sure the company has their complete application on file . . . go to an information session . . . ask for a shadowing experience. . . consider volunteering/interning for free.  In short, we want our students to get a name or face in front of potential employers as much as possible. The better an applicant can position themselves to market their skills, the more successful they will be in securing that perfect opportunity!

About internships: it’s all about the employer this summer

January 28, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Posted in Summer internships | 1 Comment
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by Colleen Sabatino

As career counselors, we always have our students’ best interest in mind. We work on behalf of the student first and support employers only as a means for getting our students connected to them. That is why this blog post is a tough reality check that we need to get clear on. This week’s blog is about an important message that we need to send to all students seeking a summer internship. The message?

“This summer, it is about the employer not the student.”

In the past year, the role of the intern has shifted dramatically. The employer mindset has gone from viewing the internship as a form of corporate community service to a method for accessing free labor. In a thriving economy, employers want to invest in the future workforce by providing opportunities for young emerging professionals to learn about their industry and professions. However, when times get tough, employers want to simply stay alive long enough to get through the recession.

As an intern, your student needs to adjust to this new mindset and approach internships differently than in the past. Instead of approaching their summer internship as an opportunity to learn about a profession or industry, they will need focus on pursuing an internship that helps them contribute their skills in a way that generates value and substance for the employer. As a result of that contribution, they will no doubt learn about the profession and industry but the goal should be contributing not learning. Employers in this tough economy are trying to make their dollars go farther and their people produce more. Internships help them accomplish both. A student that is committed to helping them get more for their money and do more with less is the one who gets the offer. The one who is looking to learn about the profession or industry will be sitting at home. It won’t matter how smart or good they might be, this summer, the winners will be the ones who recognize the needs of employers and embrace them. It is our responsibility as career counselors to help them shift their mindset and prepare appropriately for interviews. 

So what does this mean for your students? Well for starters, we can coach them on what to say when asked in an interview, “Why do you want this internship?” We can help them understand that the focus needs to on what they can do for the employer. Do not talk about how this is a great opportunity for them to learn about the industry and profession. While that might also be true, it is not the most important reason to highlight in the interview. What’s important to the employer is their ability to take initiative and produce quality work as a member of their team.

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