My Internship Story

By: Heidi

After recently finding out and accepting my first internship offer, I thought I would share my story of the whole process. It all starts with how I found out about the company. When I heard about Andersen Corporation for the first time, it was when they came to my organizational behavior management class to talk about the company and internship opportunities for the next summer. I knew with it being junior year, it was time to get down to business with internships. I listened to what the speakers had to say about their experience and enjoyment of the company, and by the end of class, I decided I would go to the table in LSBE (our business school) and talk more with the recruiters about setting up an interview.

"Since I went in with this 'nothing to lose' mentality, I told myself I was going to be the most honest version of myself in this interview, allowing myself the opportunity to make a genuine connection."

I approached the table and spoke with one of the recruiters. I introduced myself with my name and saying I was a student who was in the class they just spoke in. Looking at the interview sign up sheet it was a little intimidating knowing I had a long day ahead of me next. Although I am not much of a morning person, I signed up for the first interview at 8 am the next day.

I went home that night knowing I was going to need to update my resume, scrape up a new cover letter specific to this interview, and do more research on the company. By the time I finished my resume and cover letter it was a little too late in the night to email it to the interviewer in my opinion, so naturally, I printed off three copies of each just in case. I did my research on the company from their website on the variety of information offered, taking notes so I could really get the information in my head. The following morning I woke up early getting dressed in an outfit I had previously laid out the night before to prevent last-minute scrambling, packed a lunch, along with extra clothes for the night because I knew I was going to be on campus until about 8 pm due to sorority recruitment we had going on that week.

Internship Interview Tips

I went into my interview with the mindset that I had “nothing to lose” with this being my first internship interview ever, and also at the beginning of my junior year. Since I went in with this “nothing to lose” mentality, I told myself I was going to be the most honest version of myself in this interview, allowing myself the opportunity to make a genuine connection. At the end of the interview, I asked questions that were important to me such as how she felt being represented as a female in her company as well as her experience being an intern and moving up in the company into a full-time role. The next day I followed up the interview with a personalized email touching on things we talked about in the interview as well as thanking her for her time.

I believe the most important thing when it comes to interviewing is to be your most genuine and authentic self. It allows you to really make a connection with an employer to see if you would both be a good fit for each other. Professionally speaking when it comes to the interview process, my advice would be to always do your research on the company, give it a chance, and set yourself up for success.  

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Usplash | Vincent Versluis & Takemaru Hirai

Informational Interviewing Got Me an Internship

By: McKenzie

About a year ago I came across a subject that I had never heard of before. It’s called Informational Interviewing. When I first encountered discussion around this topic I was rightly skeptical. I thought to myself, “Who would want to talk to me (a stranger) about themselves,” and funny enough the answer is: a lot of people. And so I began my journey. I’ve always been a pretty curious person. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know about people and the lives they lead. Turns out Informational interviewing is PERFECT for me.

Benefits of informational interviewing

Here’s why you should try it too:

You learn for FREE
Getting out there and talking to people is a free, interactive way to gain knowledge. You can gain insights into how people pursue their careers, in what ways they gained experience, and suggestions for how you can be a marketable candidate for a similar position.

It’s practice
You may not think it at first, but informational interviewing will help you practice for interviews in the future. For starters, you learn what it’s like to be on the other side of the table. You realize that the person interviewing might just be as nervous as you and it can be helpful to empathize with the fact that we’re all human. Secondly, informational interviews have a tendency to open a space for you to talk about yourself as well which can bring about other opportunities.

Connections are made
The interview often turns into a conversation between two professionals which can have its perks. You develop a more professional connection with the person. For example, when I conducted an informational interview the interviewee had seen my LinkedIn profile since that’s how I reached out to her. At the end of the interview, she began to ask me questions about my aspirations and career plans. After communicating my goals with her she knew of an internship position that was within my interests and suggested that I apply.

Finding a possible mentor
The biggest thing that I have gained from informational interviewing was not the internship I obtained following the interview. Although the internship was one of the best experiences I could have asked for, it was still a temporary experience. My supervisor and informational interviewee became my mentor and she continues to guide me in my professional pursuits. This is something that has continued to benefit me even though the internship has ended.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash | Carolina Bonito

Turning Your Internship Into a Job

By: Whitney

Once upon a time, I wrote a blog post about my experience as the C&IS Intern. After loving my internship, I was reluctant to leave, so I’m back in a new role at the front desk! If you are going into an internship or want to turn your internship into a job, I’ve highlighted a few tips below to help you capitalize on this opportunity. Forbes and The Wishington Post (Washington Intern Student Housing) have also offered up some tips so that you can turn your internship into a job as well.

Transitioning your internship into a job truly starts with your internship. Ever heard sayings like “an internship is really just a drawn-out interview”? The heart of the matter is that how you behave as an intern is an indication to your supervisor and co-workers what it may be like to work with you as official staff. The process of being an intern doesn’t need to be as nerve-wracking as an interview, however.

TIPS

  1. Your internship IS your job. This means doing things like showing up on time consistently, dressing the part, and saying goodbye to personal social media while at work. Being new in any job has its moments of discomfort, but chances are you have been building these foundational skills for professionalism for years before this.
  2. Get to know all of your colleagues and fellow interns. This is code for networking. This part is scariest for me. In my first real job, my workplace would occasionally hold picnics for the daycare staff, students, and their families to attend. I was never required to go, but wish that I would have. Going would have given me an opportunity to build stronger relationships with the parents and staff, instead of simply knowing them on a more superficial level. Working together means seeing those people every day for a number of months, or years, so working becomes its own community (a professional one). Doing so will make you a part of the office and is also helpful in getting a job post-internship.
  3. One of the things The Wishington Post recommended, is to have a professional mentor within the workplace. Someone you feel comfortable with that can help you transition between student intern to employee. In my internship, that person was mainly my site supervisor. She was a great person to ask questions of and helped me to make sure I was learning about the field as well as the specific areas I was interested in.
  4. Ask questions and take initiative. Sometimes people don’t ask questions for fear of looking incompetent, but good question asking shows that you are interested and willing to learn. Asking about opportunities is something that can help you in and outside of your internship. Instead of waiting for work to be handed to you ask to be involved, without overexerting yourself. Forbes suggests you familiarize yourself with other departments as well. This may be helpful if, like me, your job ends up being a slightly different role than your internship. Asking about additional opportunities after my internship is how I found out about the front desk.

If you have an internship, congratulations! Know that the company chose you as much as you chose to work for the company. You are there to learn and also have many valuable skills to bring to the table! Your work as an intern is important.

And because I am such a fan of motivational quotes here is one to inspire you:
“It always seems impossible until it’s done”—Nelson Mandela

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If You’re Afraid of Networking then You’re Doing it WRONG

By: McKenzie

TRUE/FALSE: Networking is shady.
ANSWER: FALSE

TRUE/FALSE: Networking is scary.
ANSWER: FALSE

It came as a shock to me when I learned that many people I know perceive networking as a scary or shady activity. As I watched my colleagues engage with peers, professors, and community members I began to wonder, “Why do people associate such negativity with networking?”. Is the issue rooted in our fear of being rejected or possibly the media’s portrayal of the way to the top being a competitive game of knocking down others? I cannot say for certain where this fear comes from, however, I can say this: You are almost ALWAYS networking.

Networking. It's kind of a big deal.

I want you to think of your average day. Imagine yourself at your job or if you’re a student picture yourself at school. Consider all of the tasks you will complete, but more importantly, think about all the people who you have come into contact with today. Networking is not scary because we do it all the time. When the average person thinks about networking they often draw up images of stiff “networking” events where everyone stands locked to the wall staring anxiously at each other like middle schoolers at a dance. You came. You did nothing. You left. And you probably didn’t get much out of it. But the reality is that we are constantly networking. Unless you work from home and don’t contact anyone beyond sending your work in or you live a life of complete isolation, you are always creating contacts.

The hardest part of networking is taking the initiative to really get to know someone. Often times, our networks are full of people who have what we want or know someone who does. It’s just a matter of asking the right questions to the right people. I found a contact at Google because I happened to mention to my mom that I was interested in learning more about the company. She informed me that I already knew a family friend whose son works there and guided me to where I could find their contact information. It was then in my hands to take hold of the opportunity to reach out to them.

Getting rejected might be the scariest part about networking. I wasn’t sure that our family friend would agree to leverage her relationship with her son to get us in contact. When I messaged her I could only hope she would. And she did. The piece to always remember is that the worst thing someone will say is, “no.” and in the grand scheme of things that is really not so bad. It just means getting right back up and trying again. I have asked many people in my life to get me in touch with one of their contacts and I have only been told no once. It wasn’t scary at all. It’s a good trait to be curious about people’s lives and how they lead them. We can learn a lot from each other that way. If you aren’t sure where to start then try asking them for an informational interview because it’s pretty easy for people to talk about themselves and they anticipate that you want to learn more about them. I believe in you so get up, get out there, and start networking!

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Finally Getting the Internship

By: Cassie

If you have read my last few posts, you’ll remember how I’ve been really struggling to get an internship. Well, I thought you should know I did the impossible! I finally lined up an internship for this upcoming fall and let me tell you it feels SO good. I am definitely not trying to rub it in anyone’s face, I am just here to tell you the hard work did pay off. Here are a few tips that I can give you about finally clinching that internship.

Don’t get discouraged!
Yes, it is a long process. Yes, you’re going to be frustrated. Yes, you are going to get emails and phone calls explaining why you didn’t get the position. BUT, you have to use these things to make you stronger. You have to adjust your thinking to really see the positives of the situation. If you don’t get a position you really wanted, use that as motivation for the future and apply for the next year. If you don’t have enough experience, make sure you really start putting yourself out there. You can do it, just don’t let it get you down if you don’t get it on your first try.

NETWORKING, NETWORKING, NETWORKING
You probably get this pounded into your head by all of your professors, counselors, parents, and peers. Well, you know what, THEY ARE RIGHT. LISTEN TO THEM. I was able to get my internship by going to my professor’s office hours. He got to know me and then remembered he knew someone who has been working in the field I would like to go into. A couple emails later and I was in their office for an interview. NEVER turn down the ability to get your name out there and ALWAYS put your best foot forward.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
It is a tough process and getting help can really give you a new perspective on the situation. By talking through the process with one of our counselors, one of your peers, or a professor you have a good relationship with can be really beneficial. Sometimes you just need to be reminded of how awesome you really are!

Make sure to say thank you!
Going back to my last point, definitely use those around you as a support system – but never forget to say thank you! Say thank you to all the people who help you along the way to show how much you truly appreciate what they did! Also, make sure to say thank you to the companies and people you reach out to, even if they say no, to show that you are grateful for their time and effort! A little thank you email, call, or letter goes a long way!

Hopefully, these tips help! I am always here to talk you through the process and so is everyone here at Career and Internship Services! We want you to succeed and we know you can! So go get those internships Bulldogs! We believe in you!

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Career Counseling Internship

By: Whitney

As the semester is winding down, so is my internship, sadly. Luckily, I will be back next year filling another role in the office. Here is a glimpse into my journey as a C&IS intern.

WHY I CHOSE TO INTERN
There are many reasons I chose to do an internship for credit this semester. Number one, I wanted to gain experience in a psychology related field to assess if I really wanted to go into this field. Number two, with all the other demands of being a college student, I knew if I didn’t have a class to help me set deadlines and keep on track in the process of actually getting the internship I probably wouldn’t prioritize it. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be interning in Career Counseling, I started my degree wanting to go into human services with children and families. Going through college, however, I started to get to know myself more, take on challenges, and grow. One of these opportunities was my role as a peer mentor for transfer students. After being involved with that program I realized that I was open to working with a broader range of people than only children and that I really enjoyed working with college students. I followed my interests, discovered this internship through the psychology department, and the rest is history.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT
What I’ll miss most about it (at least while I’m gone over the summer) is the people. I spent about nine hours a week with the employees of the C&IS office and I loved getting to know them! The professional relationships you build with co-workers is important for way more than just networking. They are what makes up the work environment and office culture. Every workplace is unique. With C&IS office I think I hit the jackpot. The office is very open and welcoming, I would describe it as being a “professional family.” I looked forward to coming to work because I enjoyed the work I was doing and the people I was doing the work with. If I had one without the other it would have been incomplete. In the 40-hour-work-week world, office culture becomes even more important.

CHALLENGES AND ADVICE I WOULD GIVE MYSELF
The first few days in a new job are always a little nerve-wracking, soon enough though I got to know people in the office and settled into my role. At first, I wasn’t sure exactly what it would look like. Looking back on my experiences I would tell myself to jump into my role sooner even if I was a little unsure. I would also tell myself to ask about shadowing career counseling appointments and set them up earlier on in the internship.

Keep respectful communication between you and your supervisors, let them know what you are hoping to learn through the experience and collaborate on how to make it happen. Advocating for yourself is important, employees are busy and sometimes you need to ask if you could join in on something rather than waiting for someone to suggest it for you. And remember, you are there to learn. It’s fine to ask questions if you have them, just don’t hound people with questions.

Sometimes things are a little outside your comfort zone. Prime example: me writing for the C&IS blog. It can be tough to put your work out there for people to read, because who knows how it will be received. I also have never written for a blog before, much less one tied to an official organization. My advice would be to jump on those opportunities anyway because they could lead to something amazing.

CAREER COUNSELING
Another main reason I wanted to intern with C&IS was to see if career counseling and/or higher ed were fields I could see myself going into in the future. What is the profession like? What is it all about? I learned there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on in a career counseling office, from setting up and attending job fairs, to classes and presentations, to making sure C&IS is providing their clients with the help that they are seeking. I also learned that there is so much to know as a career counselor and it is not possible to know it all. Which just means that if an answer is unknown they put on their sleuthing hats and help the client find the needed info.

Another thing to mention, we are not alone if we ever feel anxious about our career journey or what decisions to make. We are all in the same boat with that, and while career counselors can’t tell you what exactly to do with “the rest of your life,” they can certainly help you clarify what is important to you at this point in your life and assist you in assessing your options.

CONCLUSION
Internships can be a fantastic way to gain an understanding of what you want to do in your future career and even not so great experiences can teach you this as well. I really enjoyed my internship and I discovered that career counseling is something I could see myself doing in the future. It pushed me a little out of my comfort zone at times, helped me grow in confidence in my ability to navigate being a part of the professional working world and allowed me to meet some wonderful people and make some fond memories!

Of Possible Interest

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First Time Experience at the Job Fair

By: Kimberly

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Time is ticking and every time the hand on my watch moved it seemed more surreal that in just a few minutes I would be at the job fair. In my right hand, I had a folder with twenty resumes I prepared to distribute to as many recruiters as possible and in my left hand, I held tightly onto hope. Hope for a variety of reasons; hopefully, I am successful today, hopefully, I land an internship, hopefully, I am different from the hundreds of other students and hope because I need it.

As I entered the building and quickly got myself signed-in, I made my name badge and wore it trying to contain the cold chills running through my hands. I had thousands of thoughts running through my mind such as, “What if I’m not as good as anyone else here?”, “What if I forget my elevator speech?”, “Don’t make a fool out of yourself!”, and it continued. Despite these thoughts, I managed to remind myself that like any other obstacles I had faced in life, I will conquer.

Immediately you could hear tons of voices from conversations between students and recruiters or students socializing among themselves. I quickly took a second to negotiate a deal with myself; I promised to stop stalling time after a quick tour of the entire job fair. During this tour, most of the of the recruiters I walked past were waving to students and welcoming them with a “hello,” and some even tried to engage in a conversation with you to attract you towards their booth. Students were offering their resumes and portraying emotions of excitement, eagerness, and confidence. Towards the end of my tour, I realized many of these recruiters weren’t so scary after all and it was time to take initiative. I also recalled a great tip I received to help burn off my nerves, speak with an organization that I wasn’t interested in yet, I wouldn’t be nearly as disappointed if I failed miserably.

Overall, after several conversations, I learned that many recruiters were eager to speak with students and were most likely going to be alumni from yours or another familiar university/college. They were immensely interested in hearing about what I was currently involved in, where my passion was, and the reasons why I pursue what I do. In addition to recruiters sharing with me about their position and what they do for the organization, they were sharing great pieces of advice. For example, when to look out for internships within my area, who I could reach out to specifically, and what they had in store for students with my major.

Kimberly & Crew UMJF 17
Kimberly (2nd from left) and fellow UMD students at the University of Minnesota Job & Internship Fair.

After meeting with every organization on my list I ended my day at the fair by heading to the student lounge area for a brief evaluation of everything I accomplished. I reflected on each of the conversations I had while actively jotting down notes. Although it was hard to believe, I was quite surprised at how fast the day went by and at the number of recruiters I spoke with. It was a great feeling knowing I made some awesome connections with a few recruiters. I couldn’t wait to add them on LinkedIn or send them a follow-up email, sometime on Monday.

Now, let me remind you that I attended workshops to develop a good elevator speech/pitch, spent days working on improving my resume by getting it reviewed by others, and researched the organizations’ backgrounds prior to the job fair day. All this effort I put in prior to the fair prepared me with the skills and knowledge to engage in these conversations. If I had not spent that amount of effort and time into preparing I know my first-time experience at the fair would have been disappointing. I strongly recommend to anyone who is attending a job fair whether it’s your first time or not – you need to put in effort preparing yourself before going. Like the saying, “You only get out what you put in.”, although cliché it is very true. The second piece of advice I would offer is, speak with passion. Besides telling them what is already on your resume, give them something that showcases the “why” behind everything on your resume. Lastly, enjoy your time at the fair, it is a great way to also network with other students.

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