Phone Interviews: My First Impression

By: Paying

I have recently been applying for summer internships for the Twin Cities while I’m in Duluth and was contacted for an interview. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make a trip down for the times that were listed so they offered me a phone interview which I have NEVER done before. For this blog post, I will be sharing my first impression getting interviewed over the phone and some advice for those of you who may want help preparing for it!

Before the Phone Interview
Our office actually has a blog post of how to prepare for a phone interview so go check it out for more in depth advice! For me, I was told the interview would be about 30 minutes to an hour long so I decided to book a study room in the Library so I wouldn’t be interrupted. Make sure to find a private and quiet spot before your interview begins and double check that your phone is fully charged!

Besides that, I also did research beforehand and looked up information through our Pinterest board for simple tips and tricks of how to handle a phone interview compared to an in-person interview. If not being able to see your interviewer is an issue, don’t be afraid to request for a video call!

Image: black and silver table rotary phone
Text: Phone interview tips

During the Phone Interview
One thing I did not expect for my phone interview was for there to be multiple interviewers on speaker! The room echoed a bit and one of the voices was further away from the phone which caused it to not be as clear. It’s okay to ask for clarification on questions!

Since everything is done through the phone, be sure to pronounce your words clearly! Talk in a bold voice as if they were right in front of you. A good tip for this is to stand up and keep a smile on your face so you don’t sound slouched or mumbled.

Usually when I am told something or is asked a long question, I nod and say “Mhm” to show that I am being attentive and that I understand. However, it is quite different in a phone interview and threw both me and the interviewers off multiple times. Since I was on speaker, it sounded as if I was interrupting to ask a question so I had to adjust and not say anything until they were done speaking. Expect to adapt to the situation!

After the Phone Interview
As for any other interview, send a thank you email! Thank them for their time and address any other questions, comments, or concerns you or the interviewers may have had. After that, be prepared to be patient and wait for them to finish interviewing the others.

Now that you know what to expect for a phone interview, be prepared and be confident! Good luck!

Of Possible Interest:
Interviewing – all our blog posts on the topic
Interview Like a Pro – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Pawel Czerwinski

Tips on Marketing Yourself From a Marketing Student

By: Amanda

Marketing is for everyone. Yes, you read that right. It does not matter whether you are a civil engineering student, or in the early childhood education program, it is important to recognize what you bring to the table when applying for jobs and internships. So often the idea of “selling/marketing yourself” comes with a negative, inauthentic connotation. I’m here today to bust that myth.

WHAT DOES MARKETING YOURSELF MEAN?
Marketing yourself is the idea of identifying your niche. As a college student, it is vital to identify why employers should want you over another applicant. Marketing yourself means identifying your interests. For example, if you are interested in the outdoors, perhaps this could lead to sustainability. It also means looking at what skills you have and which you can improve upon. You might consider making a list of skills and how you can apply them to the workplace. Some example skills would include: public speaking, time management, organization, or teamwork.

CREATING A PERSONAL BRAND
Creating a personal brand means understanding your strengths, values and most importantly, what you uniquely bring to the table that other candidates may not have. For example, if you are a political science major with interests in sustainability and values of inclusiveness and empathy, you can find ways to build these into your brand. The Career and Internship Services Office offers three different assessments that can help in finding your strengths and personality, as well as interests. Once you have the content for your personal brand, put it to life in your LinkedIn profile, Resume, Cover Letter, social media platforms and your life as a whole. If you live out your values and what makes you unique, it will shine through in your job search process.

Image: color confetti on ground
Text: Tips on marketing yourself from a marketing student

MARKETING YOURSELF ON YOUR RESUME
When crafting a resume it is important to realize your paid work experience is not the only relevant experience to highlight. Club positions and volunteer work can show ample amounts about who you are as a person. Consider putting your most relevant information, regardless of if it is paid work experience, at the top of your resume. Here is an example of a volunteer position resume section:

Tour Guide, Office of Admissions, UMD, Duluth, MN, Aug 2018 – Jan 2019

  • Promoted the benefits of campus to parents and students
  • Attended diversity training and display awareness during interactions with prospective students
  • Developed public speaking skills by speaking in front of groups ranging from 6 to 20 guests

This resume section, although unpaid, shows a passion for public speaking and an interest in promoting diversity.

MARKETING YOURSELF ON A COVER LETTER
Crafting a cover letter is also a prime opportunity to market yourself.  Take this opportunity to go above and beyond and showcase your personality. Try to find out the name of the person at the company that the letter should be addressed to. Describe your potential value to the employer. Do this in such a way that focuses on what sets you apart from other applicants. Maybe you were President of a college club that relates directly to the type of work you would be doing, or maybe growing up you always had a passion for the company you are applying at. These seemingly small concepts can help you go from an average job candidate to securing an interview.

MARKETING YOURSELF ON LINKEDIN
The first step to marketing yourself on LinkedIn is to make sure that your profile is fully completed. That means the summary, education, experience, profile photo, and all other areas are polished. After this is complete, go on to engage. Share and like posts that are a good representation of yourself. Always post online like the CEO of your company is going to see the post.

Of Possible Interest:
Resumes & Cover Letters – all our blog posts on the topic
Ace the Job Search & Internships – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Chris Barbalis

Applying for Internships as a Sophomore

By: Amanda

Going into my freshman year of college, I held the belief many other college students have: It is a waste of time for sophomores to apply for internships, as juniors and seniors mainly get them all. This idea quickly changed when a family friend reached out to me and encouraged me to apply for a Sales and Marketing internship with CUNA Mutual Group in Madison, Wisconsin. In our initial phone call about the internship, I expressed my concerns to him about me being only a sophomore and he said to me “it’s not always what you know, it is how quick you can learn and the characteristics you bring to the table.” This was a defining moment for me and essentially when my perspective on this topic changed. I encourage all sophomores to eliminate their self-destructive beliefs and start applying for summer internships. After all, the time is now!

Image: graph paper with pencils and markers on the edges.
Text: applying for internships as a sophomore

There are multiple steps to applying for internships as a sophomore and the first is to recognize the value an internship will bring you. Internships can help you to understand what type of business you want to work for when you graduate. Essentially, the worst case scenario is that you decide that the industry is not for you, and you then have a better understanding of yourself. As a sophomore, if a summer internship goes well, you may even be asked to come back a second summer and then if it goes really well, offered full-time employment. A summer internship helps one to gain additional skills and a larger professional network.

Now that the value of an internship as a sophomore has been established, the second aspect of applying for a summer internship is to find companies suitable for you. There are two ways to do this. First, evaluate your close professional network. Make a list of whom you know and potential connections you have to businesses of interest. Reach out to professionals who you know and gather information on the types of internships their company offers. A personalized letter, email, or LinkedIn message can go a long way. After looking at your close professional network, take inventory of companies in both the location and industry you hope to work. Do research on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and GoldPASS powered by Handshake to see if these companies are open to hiring younger students, or if they are selectively hiring older students.

And finally, as you are actually applying to these internships, make sure to assess your skills. A common misconception among students is that they do not have the skills necessary to do an internship. From personal experience, I have found this far from the truth. Throughout high school, I worked as a bank teller. Although this may not specifically relate to marketing, it taught me a handful of lessons about communication in the business world, promoting products, and organization. I would argue that being a waitress is one of the most entrepreneurial jobs one could have. Thomas Friedman, New York Times author, backs this up by stating in his speech Globalization in Higher Education, that good waitresses are in a constant state of entrepreneurship because the best waitress often makes the most in tips. Skills critical for internships such as teamwork, communication, planning, organizing, and problem-solving are all skills that are often obtained in entry-level part-time jobs. All in all, stop selling yourself short on your experiences and make a list of the lessons you learned and the qualities you have, I think you will find out you have a lot more skills than you think.

My initial thoughts have been flipped upside down since I started school at UMD. With some research and self-introspection, I believe any sophomore or even freshman can and should secure a summer internship.

Of Possible Interest:
Internships – all our blog posts on the topic
It’s Never Too Early to Intern
Multiple Internship Advantage

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Kelly Sikkema

After the Job Fair

By: Kirsi

You survived the job fair. Collected some business cards, mastered your elevator speech, and acquired some logo plastered swag. What now? Moving forward seems kind of ambiguous unless you locked down a career opportunity or interview that day. Here are some actions you can take following the fair to lock down an offer and solidify your network:

Text: What to do after the job fair

Apply
Job fairs are a great place to learn about positions companies desire to fill and positions you can apply for online. Apply promptly online while your resume is still near the top of recruiters stack and your name is fresh in their minds. It is acceptable to mention the interaction with the recruiter in a cover letter or if the application asks if you have talked to anyone.

Follow Up
Write a follow-up letter to recruiters you talked to at the fair. Here are some examples of phrases that could be used in the letter: “Thanks for talking to me the other day about your work at XYZ,” “Writing to let you know I applied online for XYZ position. Look forward to hearing from you!,” “Thank you for sharing details about your internship program. It sounds rewarding and fun. Hope to be a part of your team soon.” It is appropriate to send these in an email.

Get Connected
Recruiters typically have active profiles on social media either representing themselves or the company. Make sure your social media account is professional and appropriate and connect with them. LinkedIn is an obvious platform to connect with recruiters on. Past Peer Educator David has an excellent example of an effective LinkedIn profile. If your profile, presence, and posts are professional you could connect on more casual platforms like Twitter. @kfacciol, a Mission Control flight controller, has a great professional Twitter account.

General advice to follow when following up with job fairs is “ask and you shall receive.” Those who make the effort to reach out and stay connected will be rewarded.

Of Possible Interest:
Job Fairs; Internships; Job Search – all the blog posts we’ve written on these topics
What Now?! A Simple Guide for After the Job Fair

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Brandi Redd

Internship Relocation Challenges: Part 3 Mentally Relocating

By: Kirsi

Keeping busy the first few days relocating is easy while warming up to a new living place, co-workers, and tasks at work. It seems like all the boxes are checked…

I have a place to sleep at night.
I planned a work commute.
I’m assigned interesting challenges at work.
I have met my co-workers, management, and fellow interns.
I attend events outside of work like movie nights and laser tag.

…but it still seems more like surviving instead of thriving. It may even feel robotic. What is missing is mental relocation.

blue and red toy robot; text: internship relocation challenges, mentally relocating

Transitioning Into Work Mode 
One of the toughest hurdles to overcome in order to make the most of your internship is transitioning into thinking like an employee. Thinking like an employee is hard if it’s the first time. Although it is a different mode of thinking from past experiences – such as academics, military, sports team, or for yourself – skills gained from past experiences can help you. Now that you are interning for an organization, the organization, department, and teams’ goals become your goals. Instead of fretting about solely personal performance, the performance of a business, product, service, or team is an additional responsibility. New thought processes that may arise include…

  • What can I learn from other employees working on the same project?
  • I have found a problem but how can I propose a way to fix it?
  • What has not worked in the past?
  • How do I want to develop professionally?
road with mountains surrounding it.

Embracing Temporal Independence
After the workday is finished, it’s time for school work…. wait, there is no school work? When you clock out there is no take home work? What is there to do?! Now that evening hours are cleared out, there are opportunities for how to spend your time. This may seem daunting if your usual summer/ school break friends aren’t around to goof around with and no school assignments to tackle. Filling your time does not necessarily mean filling it with people and socializing. There are many things to do with allocated time…

  • Try a new hobby you have not had time to dig into
  • Pick up a new sport/ esport
  • Explore the new location
  • Hangout with fellow interns 
  • Chill at home
  • Host a board game night
  • Try new restaurants with fellow interns
  • Take a day trip to a city nearby
back of woman walking with umbrella on a rainy street

Managing Existential Dread
After harnessing a new mode of thinking as an intern and finding new things to do with un-allocated time, there may be some intermittent moments of doubt. When you are turning in for the night, the lights are out, the door is locked, and suddenly a new place can feel pretty scary. Trying something new on your own can be intimidating too. It’s not uncommon to lose confidence, question if you like what you are working on, and fear transitioning into life beyond college. Call a family member, friend, or someone you trust and share your worries with them. Additionally, you can contact counselors at the career center for big picture career questions like, “I have learned so much at this internship but I don’t know what to do next”, “I don’t know if I like what I am doing”, “I don’t like my major after having this internship, what do I do now?”. Career counselors’ goals are to help you take actions that will help you feel confident about your future.

Physically, socially, and mentally relocating, whew, didn’t realize there was so much involved in an internship after accepting an offer! Don’t let a new opportunity intimidate you. There is support all around and people who want you to be successful. Good luck!

Of Possible Interest: 
Internship Relocation Challenges: Part 1 Physically Relocating
Internship Relocation Challenges: Part 2 Socially Relocating
Internships – all our blog posts on the topic
Internships – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Sources: Unsplash | Rock’n Roll Monkey, Natalie Rhea Riggs, Patrick Tomasso

The Basics of Illegal Interviewing

By: McKenzie

Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates from ages 18-48 the average US citizen will hold 11.7 jobs in their lifetime and a trend seen in recent years, as the BLS studies younger candidates, has found there to be an increase in the number of jobs held from 18 onward. This means the average person will likely experience at a minimum of 11 interviews before they retire.

Jar with colored pens and blank notebook open on a desk. Text: The basics of illegal interviewing.

What is illegal interviewing? 
The term illegal interviewing may inspire images of a shady business deal and other ominous activities but in reality, it is actually rather subtle. Illegal interviewing is when employers ask their prospective employee’s questions which they are not legally allowed to in an interview.

What can’t employers ask me?
Employers can’t ask you questions regarding your age, ethnicity/race, gender/sex, country of national origin/birthplace, religion, disability, marital/family state, and pregnancy.

Why is it important I know about illegal interviewing?
Illegal interviewing can be a way to eliminate you as a candidate for a position—whether intentional or not. You should be aware of it because you if you are the most qualified for employment in the position applied for then you shouldn’t be excluded from the opportunity.

Who should I tell?
If you are up to it, you should start by speaking with the person and say, “I am not comfortable with that question,” and explain to them why it is not appropriate. Doing this could help candidates in the future who may not feel comfortable speaking up. If you don’t feel like you can bring it up to the interviewer then you can bring it up to their HR (Human Resources). Some companies will want to follow-up with you about your experience, that would be another time to bring up any inappropriate questions that may have been asked.

Of Possible Interest: 
Job Questions that are Illegal – The Balance Careers
Interviewing – UMD Career Handbook
Key to Interviewing – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read McKenzie’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Jessica Lewis

Internship Relocation Challenges: Part 2 Socially Relocating

By: Kirsi

Challenges relating to physically relocating for an internship were explored in my last blog post – finding the internship, locking down a place to stay, and navigating a new city. Sounds like a pretty concrete problem right? Exploring these tangible physical aspects addresses the bare necessities of relocating, but what about your social life? Netflix binge-watching, experimenting with Pinterest recipes, and re-re-rereading the Harry Potter series sounds appealing for a bit, but lonely after a while. How will I connect with people in and outside the workplace?

Person gazing up at night sky; text: internship relocation challenges socially relocating

Meeting Co-Workers
Start by getting acquainted with your mentor, boss, and office mates. Office mates are a one-stop shop for getting questions answered. Everything from questions about your project to “how do I connect to the printer?” Some teams may provide a handbook or on-boarding checklist with suggestions of who to meet first. Team leads may encourage to meet team leads from different disciplines. Your team may be big/small, multi-discipline/hyper-focused, or compromised of professionals from many different walks of life. Some teams request interns to give an introductory presentation sharing your major, where you study, and what you want to learn. Get comfortable with reaching out to others and saying hello!

Group of people on motorized cart tour large warehouse building.
by Kirsi, touring NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility

Meeting New Interns
You are likely not the only one relocating for an internship. Depending on your employer’s size, there may be a handful, dozen, or dozens of interns eager to meet new people. A great time to meet fellow interns is during the lunch hour. Most employers have a common dining area where employees buy lunch or eat packed lunch. There may be interns from outside your team and discipline to chat with and form an “intern table.”

Highly developed intern programs leaders coordinate networking events for interns to participate in, such as tours around the work site, group lunches on and off-site, and lectures from experienced professionals. Depending on how organized the interns themselves are, interns may schedule events outside of what program leaders coordinate. I have personally participated in things like laser tag, weekend trips to nearby cities, video conferencing with interns from the employer’s other locations, and fancy dinners. A week without three meals out was rare! Some intern groups are so organized that student made committees and bylaws are handed down from intern class to intern class.

Person sitting at desk watching 3 computer monitors
by Kirsi, video conferencing with interns from other locations

Professional Networking
Many employers offer professional development opportunities such as workshops, “brown bags,” volunteer/outreach groups, and meet and greet events with management. A brown bag is a more informal presentation when a topic is talked about over lunch. Sometimes during brown bags, a talk is given by a co-worker, someone from industry, or a video lecture is watched.

group of students with laptops listening to a presentation
by Kirsi, hosting a “How to LinkedIn” workshop

Co-workers are likely working on things related to what you are interested in pursuing professionally. Interview managers, group leads, and new hires around the organization. Ask about why they chose that company, why they are interested in their work, and what are they most proud of working on. Don’t be afraid to ask management about their work or to shadow them for a day.

If you would like more advice on relocating for an internship schedule an appointment with one of our career counselors.

Be bold, be friendly, and meet new people!

Of Possible Interest: 

Read Kirsi’s other posts

Photo Sources: Unsplash | Greg Rakozy & Kirsi