Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Summer Internship

By: Lexi

As only the first month of my summer internship comes to an end, I have already learned so much. It took a while for my employers to let me actually dive into the beneficial learning that is specific to my internship and my major, but while I was waiting to be assigned task after task, I learned important lessons that can help anyone with an internship succeed.

Ask Questions
Most of the time, there is never a stupid question. Asking questions will make you seem eager to learn and insure that you do your job correctly, which will impress your superiors.

Be Proactive
There is almost always something you can do. If you are not officially assigned a task, make one for yourself. You could study their company, look at past projects, get to know the book collection or database, etc.

Finish work on time & do more than is expected
This is so important. Being prompt and exceeding your expectations will make you stand out, which will help you succeed in your internship.

Tips for Summer Internship

Ask for constructive criticism
Asking for feedback is one of the best ways to learn at an internship. It will help you in your future tasks as well because you will know what they are looking for. Just be prepared to take the criticism and use their advice to fix your work, do not ignore it.

Take it seriously & be eager to learn
You are here to learn, show your employers that you want to. The more eager you are, the more likely people are to teach you. Show up on time, bring your materials and be ready to work.

Take a to-do list that you cannot lose
You will be given assignment after assignment, write these down! Making a to-do list will help you remember everything that you need to get done and it will keep you organized and finishing your work on time. Just don’t lose it!

Watch for opportunities to show off & contribute your knowledge
You were hired for the internship for a reason, you obviously have knowledge. Impress your employers with what you already know, but always have an open mind to learn more. After all, that is what you are there for.

Don’t just follow directions.
Do more than just the directions. Think about what you are doing when you do it. Understand what they gave you and really take information away from it.

Build professional relationships with your coworkers
The saying, “it’s who you know” is true. Build relationships now to have those connections in the future. This will help you advance your career.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash|Andrew Illarionov

Let Us Know What You’re Doing

Calling all 2015-2016 UMD Grads (undergrad & masters)! Let us know where you’re working or continuing your education. We use this information to showcase the success of our graduates and to help current UMD students see what all they could do with their majors. And no, we don’t ask you for money…just a few minutes of your time. You can see published Graduate Follow-up Reports in action on our website. Click to graphic below to take you to filling out the quick survey.

Take GFUR

The Truth About Career Success

By: Ellen (Career Counselor & guest author)

A few weeks ago I was thinking about my own career success and how I’ve defined that since graduating from college 10.5 years ago. “Career success” at 22 probably revolved around getting a full-time job of some sort in order to pass time before I was ready for grad school. “Career success” now, at 33, looks very different. It’s about using both of my degrees to own and grow in my current role, while doing some strategic planning for whatever may come next. Using both of my degrees (Communication/Business for undergrad and Counseling for grad) wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of my mind when job searching for my first post-grad school position. However, that concept has now become incredibly important to defining career success for me because I’ve experienced how great it is for me to use both of my degrees in my current job.

Truth About Career Success

Here’s the truth about defining career success…it looks different for everyone. Some people have it figured out when they graduate from college, but a lot of people don’t. Figuring out your career and career success takes time, it’s messy, and make look different depending on your stage in life.

In addition to sharing my own experience about figuring out “career success,” I did what everyone does when they’re looking for advice…I turned to Facebook. Here are some pieces of wisdom about career success from people who are in various stages of their careers and in various industries.

  • Even though you have a degree, you still have to work hard to succeed.
  • Be patient and open to opportunities given to you. You never know, it might sound horrible, but turn out to be something you’re really passionate about.
  • You won’t use all your qualifications in all your jobs. Being (or believing you are) overqualified doesn’t mean the job you got hired to do doesn’t still have to get done by you.
  • Talking about problems without suggesting solutions doesn’t really help anyone, especially not your reputation.
  • Everything you get, you have to earn. You may have taken leadership courses and been the top of your class and done everything you were supposed to in college, but chances are good that you are going to start on the bottom and have to work hard to move up.
  • You will not get the same kind of do-overs that you got in college. You don’t get to pick what your tasks are, you don’t get to decide you don’t feel like doing _____ today.

So how do you define career success?

Photo source: Unsplash | Jeff Sheldon

Make the Most Out of Your Summer Career Experience

By: Kirsi

Summer Career Exp

Photo source: Unsplash | Vladimir Kudinov

From internship to summer job to Co-Op there are ways you can get more out of your experience with just a little extra effort.

Do Research

Before diving into your summer career opportunity it is wise to do some research on the company you will be working with an the position. For example, if you scored a position as a Design Intern at the new maurices headquarters downtown read into what some of maurices’ corporate goals and what a designer does. Using LinkedIn, you can connect with past and current employees with the same position. While guided imagery may seems cheesy simply visualizing yourself working in your new position can help get your prepared.

Prior to starting a internship or Co-Op it is common to get in touch with your designated mentor (if you have one). You can talk about what projects you will be working on over the summer and how you can be ready the first day. Your mentor may have suggestions on reading, training, or project-prep you can do ahead of time. If you are not assigned a mentor before your first day find one once you start! Mentors can give you feedback on your work, answer questions you may have about professionalism, and introduce you to other employees working on similar things.

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Sitting with PLUTO (Plug-in Port Utilization Officer) in Mission Control logging Extra Vehicular Activity tasks. Photo by NASA.

Set Goals

There are goals to be reached beyond getting discipline related experience and a project done over the summer.

Likely you are surrounded by professionals working on things related to what you are interested in for a future career. Make it a goal to interview folks around the organization. Ask about how they got started, why they are interested in their work, and a rewarding challenge they have tackled in their career. Don’t be afraid to ask management about their work or to shadow them for a day. While Co-Oping at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control I was challenged to meet and shadow with four or more people in Mission Operations. I learned about what it takes to send a device to space, watched astronauts receive training, and even sat in Mission Control.

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Uh oh, I was wearing khakis during an exit presentation! I didn’t know better back then.
Giving an exit pitch about work on a Solar Array Regulator circuit at NASA Glenn Research Center Summer 2013.

Another good goal is to make a meaningful contribution to the organization and share it with your mentors. The project or job pre-established before your first day may already contribute to the organization meaningfully. If you feel your first assigned task is monotonous it may simply be a test of trust, your work ethic, and if you can keep a positive attitude. It’s your job to communicate either through an exit pitch or presentation established by you how your work has been meaningful. A past Google Intern, Jon Youshaei, wrote a TIME article “10 Ways to Maximize Your Summer Internship” listing unique ways to connect with management. Youshaei suggests sending weekly recap emails to your manager, asking senior executives about having a “roundtable chat” or “lunch and learn”, and pitching new project ideas.

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Journal entries from my internship experiences.

Keep a blog or journal about your career experience! Never thought you would go back to your diary writing days? Actually, writing about your work day is a good way to digest everything that has happened, be thankful about all the good, and ruminate about ways you can improve. I have kept written journals and an online blog accounting internship, Co-Op, and tech related experiences. It was really helpful to look back to what I worked on when putting together my exit presentation!

Make it a goal to grow during your experience. Ask for and be excepting of feedback. Ask for feedback weekly or as you get things accomplished. Then apply the feedback in visible ways. Ways you can ask for feedback include; “How are ways I can improve my XXXX project?”, “How are ways I can become more professional?, or simply “How do you think I am doing?” Your organization may already have a student performance evaluation system where your work is reviewed throughout the summer.

dress_well

Photo source Olu Eletu | Unsplash

Establish Good Habits

A summer career opportunity is much like a summer long interview for a possible full time position therefore creating good habits is key to a good impression. CNBC shared “10 tips for your summer internship” that suggested interns find ways to go above and beyond, honor your word and your work, and maintain a strong work ethic. Below are some additional goals to consider.

  • Dress For Success – In the world of engineering I see a lot of folks in khakis. While that is accepted in the work place I make it my goal to dress as nice as my team lead or manager. How you dress shows how serious you are about your work. Be careful to dress work appropriate, like closed toed shoes in a lab or layers if the temperature fluctuates. This doesn’t mean that a tux or pearls is necessary but looking sharp does not hurt.
  • Arrive Punctually – Be on time! Think you can sneak in at 8:10 am? Nope, people are watching and judging. Consistently arriving on time, dressed, fed, and ready to go at the start of your work day or even a few minutes early shows that you are prepared for the work day. Carrying this habit for on time arrival at meetings is key too.
  • Be Thankful – Your level of professionalism can be measured in you respect for others and how you show thanks. If a mentor or peer has helped you out send a quick thanks email. At the end of your summer experience leaving a hand written thank you can mean a lot.

Good luck your summer career experience, learn lots and have fun!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Embracing My Identity: I am Generation A

By: David

We are all aware of Generation X and Generation Y, but never has there been such a concept recognized as Generation A until now. As this is my final blog post of the academic year, I would like to wrap up my “Embracing My Self-Identity” series with this last one in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. After returning from the  MAASU Spring Conference at the U of M several weeks ago, I feel rejuvenated and as if I have returned as a new and improved person. After four years of being a student here at UMD, three years of being an active student leader in the Multicultural Center, and three MAASU Spring Conferences (held annually), I can finally, for once, walk around the halls and sit in my classrooms/workplace with complete confidence and truly embrace who I am as an individual, specifically as an Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA). To understand this struggle, let’s take a look at some numbers. The APIA student population (doesn’t include international students) accounts for only 4% of the entire campus community, but continues to be the largest student of color of population on campus. This comes to show how small the student of color population is on UMD’s campus. All data can be found on the Office of Institutional Research webpage. With all that being said, here is the concrete definition of what Generation A is, what it means to be Generation A, and why it is so important to embrace such a movement.  

Generation A is one where we take ownership of who we are. It is a generation where we create our own narratives, tell our own stories, and design spaces for us and by us. We are the future generation of APIA leadership.”

MAASU Poster

Identity Crisis

Before jumping into my reflection and insight, I want to briefly talk about a concept that is especially popular in the field of Psychology which is the state of identity crisis. According to Merriam-Webster, identity crisis is “a feeling of unhappiness and confusion caused by not being sure about what type of person you really are or what the true purpose of your life is.” I mention this because my assumption is that almost every, if not all, college students will experience this at one point or another during their college career. In my two previous posts, this was especially true as I struggled and fell into a state of confusion to figure out how my personal identity, specifically my racial identity, plays a part in the campus community and society as a whole.

MAASU Reflection

This year I was fortunate enough to attend the MAASU conference with 33 of my peers which turned out to be a remarkable experience for many of us. Though I have attended two MAASU Spring Conferences prior to this year, it isn’t until now that I am able to completely embrace my identity with full confidence.  It is true that I have always embraced my identity, but I feel as if there was always a missing piece to the puzzle, or that it wasn’t real or complete. What I took out from this year’s conference then and how it impacted me so tremendously was that it made me realize how important and precious my APIA identity really is.  As I walked around the Twin Cities campus during the conference, I was able to witness a sense of unity among my APIA peers from different parts of the region. With every workshop related to APIA topics and issues, I finally feel as if my identity and history is valid and that there is deep value in learning about the people, traditions, and culture of the APIA community. Growing up as a student of color, never did I learn anything pertaining to Asian American history or about the accomplishments that APIA leaders were able to achieve and because of this it forced me to deny a part of my identity as I had to assimilate to the majority. With MAASU, it was one full weekend that was dedicated to this piece that I, along with many others kept locked away for so long. For once, there is this sense of recognition and acknowledgement that we matter and that our existence matters.

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UMD Asian Pacific American Association & Hmong Living in Unity & Balance students at the MAASU 2016 Spring Conference.

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UMD Asian Pacific American Association & Hmong Living in Unity & Balance students at the MAASU 2016 Banquet.

Moving Forward

As I have finally achieved or acquired this state of enlightenment and self-actualization, I hope to help others in doing so as well in the future. In addition, I want to become a learner and a teacher, one who is able to learn more about this identity and teach it to those who never had a chance to learn about it. With this, my hope is to do what the conference has done for me, which is to create a sense of validity and importance in the APIA identity and history. Furthermore, I hope to break away from the stereotypes that are placed upon me because of the color of my skin or my physical features. In the end, my ultimate goal before I leave UMD is to have my peers and friends to achieve and acquire this state of enlightenment and self-actualization and to fully embrace their identity with a whole sense of they really are. Even if it is just one, I will be content with my efforts. With that being said, I wish you all well for the rest of finals week and Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!  

Of Possible Interest:

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Role With It

By: Cassie

Whether we like it or not, almost all of us will have to work for the rest of our lives. You may be dreading this or you may be excited to see what your future has in store, but it’s all about your point of view. If you go into a job and are willing to better yourself, you are going to have a lot better time than if you go into your job every day dreading it. Whether you are in an entry-level position or you are just starting your adult job, one of the best things you can do to enjoy your workplace is to GET INVOLVED.

Now you’re probably thinking that I’m crazy. Why would you want to take on more responsibility? Well, I’m here to tell you that at work, you get out what you put in. By this I mean the more you get involved, the more results and rewards you get out of it. I mean, who doesn’t like getting told that they’re doing a good job, right?!

It’s pretty easy to take on new roles at your workplace. You can find out what else is going on in your office besides what you’re currently doing. Some examples of this would be getting involved in the social media, taking on leadership roles, adopting projects, and maybe even taking an extra position to get some extra hours. A lot of these things don’t require a lot of extra work and the added bonus is that by taking on additional roles you also are building onto your resume. By being multifaceted in your workplace you learn a lot about your place of work and you have a better sense of belonging.

If you still are skeptical about what I’m telling you, I will tell you my own personal story. I started out as an alumni caller at C&IS in February 2015. I then went on to pursue a front desk position in September 2015. I currently still hold both of these positions. I like to table for events to promote the many benefits our office offers and I also write for this blog. These have all been huge learning opportunities for me and there have been so many benefits! Some of the benefits I have experienced are getting closer to my coworkers, learning more about the office, and being able to be creative and come up with new ideas. Yes, it is a lot of work, but now I am really starting to get so much more out of coming to work. I am actually having fun!

So now that you know all the benefits of taking on additional roles, I want to tell you ways you can find out about these extra jobs. Ask your boss about what they need help with around the office, I’m sure they will be thrilled to take something off of their plate. Look into the social media and see if there is anything you can do to promote or enhance it. Look around your place of work to see if there are any new or creative ideas that you have that may help out the work place. The list is endless and these are just a few examples!

So get out there and start to help your work place and yourself!

Of Possible Interest: 

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The Art of the Skype Interview

By: Katie

I had my first experience with a Skype interview when I interviewed for a grad program recently. Skype interviews can be very convenient – they can be done wherever you want, and you don’t have to worry so much about wearing the right pants and shoes or making sure you put in a breath mint beforehand. With these different conditions, though, comes a set of factors unique to video interviewing that need to be considered. Here are a few tips I learned to prepare for Skype interviews.

Skype Interview

Set the stage.

A big part of preparing for a Skype interview is determining where it will take place. Find a quiet area where you won’t be interrupted (no barking dogs or roommates barging in!). Make sure your interviewing spot has a simple background for you to be in front of – no distracting patterns, colors, or items on the wall. The lighting also should be considered. It needs to be bright enough for you to be seen, but not overwhelmingly so. Seeing what your outfit, hair, and any jewelry will look like is also important. Something that may look good in-person might not look good on camera. Finally, determine how the camera will be set up in relation to you. Set it up so your upper body is showing (not just your face) – it should mimic what you would look like to an interviewer sitting across from you in person. Try different chair positions and stacking your camera up on books or other props to find the best set up.

Make eye contact.

When you Skype or video call someone, do you look at their face on the computer screen? Most people probably do, but it’s not the best in an interview setting. Eye contact is important, and if you’re looking at the interviewers’ faces, to them it will look like your gaze is slightly downward. Looking directly into the webcam is the best way to mimic actual eye contact in a video call. To break the habit of looking at the screen, you can practice saying your answers to common interview questions while looking into your webcam (practicing questions and making eye contact at once!).

Have helpful materials nearby.

The benefit of interviewing via Skype is that you can have extra items around you that the interviewer can’t see. This could be your resume, which you could have printed off on the table or pulled up on your computer screen so you can easily refer to it. Another item I found useful was having post-it notes on my computer screen with words of inspiration on them. Interviewing is stressful for many people (like me), and having that extra bit of motivation or your resume for backup can be very comforting!

Practice and troubleshoot.

Interviewing by video is different than in person for several reasons, but one big one is that there are more things that could go wrong. You could have your Skype set up so your video or your interviewer’s video doesn’t show, or the sound on your computer might not work correctly, or the internet connection could be bad, and so on. To make sure you won’t experience any of these Skype interview faux pas, practice making a Skype call before your actual interview. This will give you the time to troubleshoot any problems that come up, and simply make you more comfortable with what the interview will be like.

Besides these tips, there are several other ways to prepare for interviewing in general. Check out the interviewing-related posts on our blog, do a mock interview with one of our Career Counselors, or stop into our office and we’ll help you prepare!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Katie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Luke Chesser