Be the Awesome Intern

You have an internship? Fantastic! We’ve put together a handy list of tips so you can be an AWESOME intern.

How to be the awesome intern; wood desk top

  • Set goals with your supervisor about what will be accomplished throughout & by the end of the internship.
  • Keep track of what you do each day at your internship. This will help when meeting w/your supervisor & updating your resume at the end.
  • Find ways to go above and beyond what is expected of you. If you finish a task ahead of schedule, ask where else you can assist.
  • Be punctual. If you start at 8am, be at your desk/station ready to work at that time versus walking in the door.
  • If you don’t know (and you’ve tried multiple ways to the solve the issue yourself), ask. Asking questions is a good thing.
  • Do you commute to your internship? Maximize your time by reading the news, listening to podcasts, or keeping up with the trends in your field.

Tori with Bacon sign at Hormel

Peer Educator Tori at her internship with Hormel Foods

  • From one of our fave recruiters: “We look at it [the internship] as a long interview. Kill it, learn/grow and you might have a job before it ends.”
  • Meet with people from throughout the organization. Learn about what they do and advice they may have for you.
  • Attend events the company has designed for the interns. Be a joiner!
  • Ask for constructive criticism/feedback. It’ll help you be a better intern and professional.
  • Take your internship seriously and be eager to learn.
  • Learn your organization’s company culture (mission, values, org structure, clients, attire, etc).
  • If you have fellow interns, connect with them. You’re all going through the internship experience together.
  • Don’t like your internship? Figure out if it’s the work, the people, or the company rather than an overall negative experience.
  • Managing your time as an intern is different than when you’re a student. Find what works best for you.
  • How to be the best summer intern in your office. Via: The Prepary

Kirsi doing Astronaut user testing at NASA co-op

Peer Educator Kirsi at her co-op with NASA Johnson Space Center

  • Check in with yourself halfway through the internship and reflect on how it has been going so far. Tweak as needed.
  • Talk to people in a variety of departments and work functions to see the bigger picture of your organization.
  • How to handle a competitive work environment.
  • Check in with your supervisor on a regular basis to see how your internship is going. Ask questions. Get feedback.
  • Interested in having your Internship transition to Full-time? Explore company benefits: retirement, insurance, continuing education, etc.
  • Environment is huge. Take notes about your internship and what works (or doesn’t) for you: nature of the work, people, and work setting to help with your next search. 
  • What have you been learning about your industry during your internship? How will you bring that back to your classes?
  • Details matter. Proofread everything, because you don’t want to be remembered as the person with the typo problem.
  • Research how your company invests in its people. Training, help with furthering education, personal growth, benefits, and more.
  • Be thinking about who at your internship you want to ask to be references for you. Ask before your last day.

Of Possible Interest: 

  • Internships – all of our blog posts about the topic
  • Internships – our Pinterest board filled with articles and resources

Photo Sources: Unsplash; Tori; Kirsi

Managing Mental Health

By: PJay

Editor’s note: In our office, we view mental health as a strong component of overall confidence and success in your future career path. Use PJay’s experience, described below, as inspiration for taking care of your own mental health. 

As the end of the semester was approaching I found myself losing a lot of motivation and constantly feeling stressed. It seemed as if a lot of my acquaintances were also feeling the same way as me when we were discussing mental illness in the Asian community. Whether you are Asian or not, I’m sure you’ve experienced the feeling of being considered “crazy”, “lazy”, or “ungrateful” when you mentioned the feeling of having depression or anxiety. It’s a big problem I want to address it in this post. Being a person who is Hmong American and has been told by doctors that I have anxiety, I want you to know that you are definitely not those stereotypes mentioned above.

Managing mental health

First I would like to share my experience of learning how I came to be aware of my anxiety. I grew up in a very supportive family but mental illness was never addressed as something that needed to be taken care of. I think this actually goes for a lot of Asian households. My sophomore year was the time when my anxiety got really bad. My panic attacks would make my breathing irregular and I would lose control of my body. There would be so much tingling and numbness from my head to toes that I would end up falling over or passing out. For some reason at the time, I thought I had asthma and after several panic attacks, I finally decided to schedule a doctor’s appointment. When meeting with my primary doctor in Saint Paul, we went in depth about my symptoms. It turned out I didn’t have asthma, and she concluded I had anxiety. I was so shocked at the time and I thought the doctor was wrong because I was unaware of mental illness. I was in such disbelief I decided to schedule another appointment at UMD’s Health Services instead. But guess what? The doctor there told me the exact same thing. At first, I was obviously upset because growing up, all I knew was that anxiety meant you were crazy and I didn’t want people to think I was CRAZY, so I only told very close friends about my situation. Thankfully, all of them were very understanding.

Moving on, I knew I couldn’t run away from it because it was something uncontrollable in my mind, therefore the only thing to do was to make it better. I began to learn more about how to take care of myself through online research and being around people who understood and experienced the same things as me. In addition, I attended APAA’s Mental Illness in the Asian Community lead by Julie Kim from Health Services, which gave me more insight about how I wasn’t the only who felt “crazy” with my mental illness. It also made me realize there are a lot of people who needed my guidance and my support. This is how I stopped shying away from accepting the fact I do have anxiety and it is OK.

I want anyone who has, or maybe doesn’t have, depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues to know they should never treat themselves or others differently. Be aware that it can be a sensitive topic and don’t assume it’s “not real”. Someone may look normal on the outside but inside they could be experiencing something psychologically and these are considered non-visible disorders. Next time you hear about someone experiencing this, be kind and offer help. UMD’s Health Services offers free counseling for all register UMD students for various reasons. There are also very supportive groups on campus such as the Disability Resource Center and Access for All. Your mental health plays a bigger role in your life than you make think. Remember to take care of yourself.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read PJay’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Faye Cornish

Removing, Rebooting, and Relocating

By: Tori

Moving away from your ‘normal’ for the past 4 years is harder than you’d think it would be. When I accepted my offer to join the Leadership Development Rotational Program with Allstate Insurance, I was equally nervous and excited. I was ready for a fresh start but I continued to be reminded of the things I would miss out on, the people I wouldn’t see, and the difficult transition that was ahead of me.

For my final blog post as a Peer Educator, I decided to share a few lessons I have gained while learning how to remove myself from ‘normal’, reboot my attitude to optimism, and relocate to a new city!

Removing Rebooting Relocating Lessons for tackling life after graduation

The first lesson I have learned is that I am very blessed. UMD has provided me a platform for growing and expanding beyond my comfort zones, as well as opportunities to make new friends, connections, and gain more wisdom during this one phase of my life than I thought possible. From sporting events, study abroad, on-campus jobs, internships, hilarious roommates, Bulldog hockey, etc. Due to these experiences and people, I have more confidence that Chicago will hold similar blessings. It may just take some time.

The second lesson I have learned is that I’ve done this before, so I can do it again. It’s not that I hate change, it’s more that transitions are hard. They are exciting and offer new adventures, but they also are overwhelming, and often times lonely. I remember experiencing this after coming back from summer break freshman year. I was excited to be back in Duluth and conquer year 2 of my undergrad, but also missed the normal, the familiarity, and the comfort I had at home. This continued to happen to me as I would transition from living at home and working, to living in Duluth and learning. But the thing is, I ALWAYS moved past that transition phase and got right back into the swing of things. At times it seemed too much to handle, but then I reminded myself “you’ve done it before, so you can do it again’.

The final lesson I have learned is that if you prepare, you will feel more capable. In the midst of my senior year ending, my time has been consumed with final papers, projects, ‘the lasts of the lasts’, and meeting up with friends before we go our separate ways. However, I also have taken time to journal, process, and plan how to prepare myself best for this new move. Thinking through and having an idea in mind of places to hang out, get coffee, and attend church have helped me begin to form my life in Chicago before I’ve even left! Taking the time to think through these things has helped me remind myself I am capable of change and this time in my life will be one I won’t ever forget!

I hope these lessons help you as you begin your transition into the summer, your new job, or your new location!

Of Possible Interest:

Read Tori’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jan Senderek

Tips For Surviving Junior Year

By: Heidi

For my last blog post of my Junior year of college, I thought a reflection would be fitting to wrap up the year. Junior year has by far been the most challenging year academically and also learning to balance everything as a whole.

I went from taking my lower division courses that weren’t really related to my major sophomore year, to jumping into upper division courses this year. I had no job my sophomore year and spent the majority of this past year working two. I hadn’t had any leadership roles freshman or sophomore year and ended up in three different leadership positions in student organizations and eventually had to close the chapter to one of them.

It has been a year of balance or trying to figure it out, to say the least.

Tips for surviving Junior year

Take care of yourself. Not just self-care every once in awhile, but every day. Self-care comes in different forms for everyone but find what works best for you.

Small chunks consistently. It’s a lot easier to accomplish a task if you work on it in chunks rather than trying to study or work on a project for 8 hours straight. Honestly, within an hour or two you’re going to find yourself distracted and won’t be able to focus to the best of your abilities. It’s not easy to plan ahead but it will save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Snacks!! They will get you through the long days. There are a few vital things I have learned to keep on me throughout the year. My go-to’s have been oven roasted dark chocolate almonds (brain food), green tea (perfect amount of caffeine for a midday pick me up), and a pack of gum (just necessary). No matter what your snack of choice is, it will help keep you fueled so instead of thinking about how hungry you are, you are able to focus and get the job done.

Take advantage of the opportunities campus has to offer. Whether it’s job fairs, on-campus interviews with recruiters, info sessions, or special guest speakers, make an effort to not only attend but be active and engaged in these events. The campus puts on a lot of stuff for students, so use it to your benefit!

Relax. The responsibilities are endless. It’s ok to take breaks, it’s ok to go see that new movie, it’s ok to just hang out with friends and do nothing. There will always be something to do and something you could do. This goes right along with taking care of yourself. One of the benefits I have learned from this is that taking time away from homework allows me to collect my thoughts and come up with new and often better ideas. This goes right into my next point.

Exercise! The idea of it may be grueling, but find some form of fitness or way to get your body moving! We all know there are many benefits to exercising, and some are more important to certain people than others. One of my favorite things I have discovered is that working out really helps me process my thoughts and work through my emotions. I have toyed with exercising in the morning before school but what I have ultimately found is that after school or evening workouts not only work better for my schedule but my well-being as it helps manage minor stresses I may encounter on a day-to-day basis.

Whether you’re graduating, or finishing up your freshman year of college, take some time to reflect on your experience. What went well, where can you make improvements, and how you can implement these skills and ideas into your future. Reflect now and be prepared for the future.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Heidi’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Denys Nevozhai

How to Dress for the Job Title You Want

By: Kimberly

When you’re up against many other applicants, immediately your goal is to stand out from the rest. How do you attain that goal? First Impressions. The way you dress for an interview is going to play a big part in your first impression. Whether you’re going to a job interview or not, your appearance will tell recruiters if you are suitable for the job. Therefore, you should dress appropriately and present yourself professionally.

Step 1: Company Culture
Deciding what to wear for an interview can feel nerve-racking because you don’t know if the outfit will make it or break it for you. I learned that you should take into consideration the culture of the company. Do the company employees dress up in a suit every day or do they dress strictly for a dress code? Gaining insight of attire that is appropriate can save you from the stress in deciding what to wear. A suit may not always be the best choice for an interview. For example, going in for an interview for a personal trainer position will require you to be dressed appropriately. If you show up wearing a suit and tie and all the employees are wearing athletic gear, you will feel uncomfortable and be unable to fully participate in the interview. The same is true if you show up in shorts and a t-shirt while everyone else is in business casual. Your first impression is then telling the company you might not a fit the position. Do your research and learn about the company’s culture.

How to dress for the job title you want

Step 2: Big No’s
Although bright colors may look like the best way to get someone’s attention, it is a big no when it comes to your interview. Choose more neutral colors for your outfit like gray, black, brown, or white for a clean and professional look. Another thing you want to avoid is revealing clothing. The last thing that you want to worry about is second-guessing the length of your skirt. The same applies to men as well. You don’t want to worry about having to tuck in your shirt constantly. Next, we’ve all heard the saying, “less is more.” This rule applies when you’re adding on details with jewelry or other accessories. These details are meant to enhance your appearance, not the opposite. With shoes, avoid wearing uncomfortable and dirty shoes. Again, we are aiming for comfort because you’re focus should be on the interview, not what you’re wearing. And I think we all also know why your shoes should be clean.

Step 3: Accessorizing
Accessorizing your outfit can enhance your overall appearance and add a little personality. When accessorizing you should still play it safe and be smart about the details you’re adding. There is no limit to how much you can accessorize your outfit, but remember that simple is good. For example, sometimes all you need to complete the look is a watch and a belt to match your shoes or matching stud earrings and a necklace. Finally, one of my tricks is to dress up a bit more than your interviewer. It’ll be impressive and lets the interviewer know you are there to get the position. For example, if the normal work attire is business casual, aim for a business formal look. And of course, this knowledge is obtained by doing your research.

Step 4: Presentation
Having your outfit selected is half the battle. The other half is the presentation. Always make sure your clothes are clean and ironed if necessary. Wrinkled and dirty clothes will take away from the effort you put into dressing the part. It will speak louder than the matching top and bottom you have on or the details you added with a belt or necklace. Your clothes should also fit true to your size and not look like you borrowed the outfit or outgrew it. You’re already nervous about the interview you shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable too.

In addition to your outfit, the other part of your presentation also lies in grooming yourself and hygiene. Make sure you don’t look like you just woke up and threw on the outfit. Clean yourself up by brushing your teeth for good breath, deodorant, and anything else to make you feel confident.

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Kimberly’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Rodion Kutsaev

Undergraduate Reflections

By: Tony

As the last weeks of my time as an undergraduate student at UMD approach, I wish to take this time to reflect on these past four years and talk about my successes and a few of my regrets.

Freshman

My plan coming into UMD was this: I would give it a shot here, and if I didn’t like it, I could easily transfer to the Twin Cities campus and be closer to home. Clearly, that did not happen. Instead, I quickly found myself deeply involved with the Latinx/Chicanx Student Association (Then called Latino/Chicana Student Association) and became fast friends with all of its members. A few weeks later, I ran for the Freshman Representative position on the Executive Board and was elected. That was the beginning of my involvement as a student leader on campus. Like most other freshmen, I had no idea what I was doing, and I got lost more often than I would like to admit. Luckily, by the time spring semester came around, I had a decent knowledge of the layout of UMD, and I knew the basics of how to get through college successfully. That year, I also began texting with a girl who went to school in Mankato with a few of my friends from back home. I also lived on-campus and had a meal plan, and so my immediate expenses were so low that I did not see a need to get a job. In hindsight, I wish I would have had the foresight to work a bit and be able to save up the money.

3 students sitting at table

Tony, Emilie, & Eva in the Career Resource Center

Sophomore

My sophomore year was rather uneventful compared to the previous one. I served as a red RockStar during Bulldog Welcome Week, and that was an amazing experience that resulted in me losing my voice for a few days after yelling for several days straight. Outside of that and a few tours facilitated by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I did not get much experience with being a student leader during my sophomore year. Luckily, that was compensated with better grades than I earned the year before, although that could easily be chalked up to having more experience with college classes in general. I also grew deeper friendships with my peers in LCSA and the Multicultural Center as a whole. Even though I was not an official student leader in the MC, my efforts to benefit marginalized students was recognized, and I was nominated and ultimately selected to serve as the Diversity and Inclusion Director for Student Association (student government) the following year. Additionally, I ran for a position on LCSA’s Executive Board for the following year and I got that position as well. That summer, I moved in with a few of my friends from LCSA to an off-campus house. Although I faced a lot more immediate expenses, with rent and utilities, I am actually paying considerably less out-of-pocket now than I would be paying through scholarships and student loans if I still lived on campus. Plus, having my own room is really nice. Much like the year before, I have regrets of not having the foresight to put myself in a better financial situation. I wish I had searched for a job and applied for scholarships outside of UMD.

Student at job fair

Tony at the UMN Job & Internship Fair

Junior

For the second time, I had the honor of serving as a RockStar during Bulldog Welcome Week. Early on in the semester, I also began dating the girl whom my friends in Mankato introduced to me during freshman year, so my year got off to a very good start. Holding leadership positions within both LCSA and SA were both amazing experiences that allowed me to further my advocacy and leadership skills. During the spring semester, I began working for Career and Internship Services as a Peer Educator. Serving as a Peer Educator has given me the opportunity to serve my fellow students in a new capacity. It has given me the chance to advise them on how to present themselves in the best way possible and how to better understand the qualities they have that will serve them well in their academic and professional lives. One thing I do regret from this year is not putting forward the effort to figure out if I could add a sociology major and still graduate on time. I kept thinking about asking, but I never actually did it.

Team of student presenters

Kyliah, Meg, Joel, Sherrill, & Tony presenting at UMD’s Summit on Equity, Race, & Ethnicity

Senior

For the third and final time, I served as a RockStar during Welcome Week. Naturally, this year has been full of doing things for the final time. A great deal of my time has been spent planning for my future and figuring out what I will do once graduation comes around. In the Fall semester, I studied for and took the GRE, a standardized test very similar to the ACT that most graduate schools want to see the scores from. At the same time, I also began looking at graduate schools back home in the Twin Cities, where I planned on living after graduation. Spring semester has entailed applying to those schools and looking for employment for the summer and more long-term. All of this, in addition to finishing strong with my classes, has been quite stressful over the past few weeks, but the support from my job, family, friends, and especially my girlfriend, has been amazing and is getting me through it. I have enjoyed the past four years here at UMD, and although I have had some regrets along the way, all the positive experiences and great lessons have greatly outweighed them. I’m definitely going to miss it here.

Read Tony’s other posts

Career Advice for College Graduates

By: McKenzie

How exciting! You’ve made it through your college education and while you may be continuing into a graduate program you are still wondering, “what should I do now?” Here is some simple advice for navigating the waters of entering your career field.

Stay Positive
Entering the workforce can be a very intimidating experience and if you aren’t finding jobs right off the bat that’s okay! Many students struggle to enter a job within their chosen career path when they first start looking. It may not be easy entering this next stage in life so maintaining a positive outlook can help carry you through the mucky experience.

Know What You Want
Graduating college can be a very stressful experience for anyone who is unsure what they are looking for in a job. During interviews and at job fairs potential employers are looking for candidates with an idea of their direction in their field. Think to yourself, “where would I like to be in 5 years?” and start looking for work that will get you there.

Career Advice for College Graduates

Reach Out
Now is a great time to start contacting people within your networks and seeing what opportunities are available. If you do not know anyone within your field, then it’s time to do some research. There are a lot of professionals who are willing to talk about themselves, so try reaching out and asking if they would be interested in an informational interview. Your connections can take you far.

Get Involved & Stay Involved
Were you involved in college? Keep that going! If you were not, then now is a great time to start. Our passions can help show employers there is more to us than meets the eye. Being involved is a great resume and network booster! You never know who could be your next reference.

Research Before Interviews
Companies like candidates who are interested in them. Often times applicants lose themselves in the process of applying for a job and they are not prepared for their interviews. If you do not know anything about a company hiring you then how would you know they are the right fit? The company may not align with your values. You also might not be ready when they ask you a question you could have known the answer to with quick Google search.

Of Possible Interest:

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Joshua Sortino