Large Scale Internship Programs: What it Looks Like and the Pros of Going Through the Program

By: Amanda

So maybe you’ve decided that you want to pursue an internship for the upcoming semester or summer. Congrats! Now that you have made this decision, it is time to think about what type of internship you would like to have. Internship programs come in many different shapes and forms. For some internships you may be the only intern at a company, for others, you might find yourself a part of a larger group. Either way, there are benefits to both. Today I will talk specifically about the benefits of a large scale program.

For the duration of summer 2019, I had the opportunity to experience a large scale internship program. My program consisted of 70 interns working for 10 weeks in total. Although I was in the sales department, the company had interns ranging from finance and claims to digital media. Since I am from a town that is outside of the company’s radius, I also had subsidized housing included in my offer package. Typically, larger programs like the one I experienced are offered through big corporations, although there are some smaller companies that have them as well. 

Image: markers lined up on shelves
Text: Large scale internship programs

NETWORKING & MENTORSHIP
Throughout the course of my internship, we were provided with five afternoons where executives from the c-suite level would speak to our intern class with a networking hour to follow. I enjoyed this because this gave me an opportunity to speak with senior leadership that I would not normally have the chance to interact with. These seasoned employees took an afternoon out of their day to share their experiences, tips, and wisdom. 

It was also highly encouraged for us to set up “Meet and Greets” with employees throughout the company, both in our division, and also in other areas. Essentially, this consisted of grabbing coffee for 30 minutes with an employee and asking them how they got to their position, what their day-to-day roles consist of, and what advice they may have. With a company as large as the one I was working at, this was an ideal way for me to network cross-functionally.

At the beginning of the summer I was paired with a mentor. My mentor was outside of the sales department. We sat down multiple times throughout the summer to touch base on my progress, goals, and any other miscellaneous questions I had. 

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Throughout my three months I was able to attend two conferences and join two Employee Resource Groups. Employee Resource Groups act as ways for employees to dive into specific interests they might have. I joined the Young Professionals Society and Sustainability Group aka the “Green Team”. Through the Green Team, I attended a quarterly breakfast in which I was able to talk with professionals from across the community looking to implement sustainable practices into their company. 

CASE COMPETITION 
Many large scale internship opportunities have a case competition. This consists of interns being split up into teams of 6 to solve an assigned issue the company is facing. Our issue this past summer was: “how to reach more consumers digitally”. We worked on this case over the course of the summer and presented for 10 minutes with a panel to follow. This competition helped me to meet interns from across the company who I would not normally interact with. 

INTERN EVENTS 
Over the summer, we were provided with nearly weekly intern events. During our time we attended multiple semi pro soccer and baseball events at which free food was provided. Additionally, we went to mini golf and had a few game nights. There were multiple times that the company would cater dinner into the apartment building where the interns were living. Again, these types of events acted as both intern bonding and networking.

Overall, if you are at all thinking about going through a traditional, large scale internship program, I would highly suggest applying. Through this type of experience, you will be able to learn about the many functions of the company, meet lots of people and set yourself up for future success.  

Of Possible Interest:
Internships; Networking – all our blog posts on the topics
Internships; Key to Networking – our Pinterest boards filled with articles & resources

Read Amanda’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Faris Mohammed

Applying For and Having an Internship

By: Paying

In my past blog posts, I’ve written about how I personally have been moving through the career planning process. First I assessed myself and then I went on to explore my options, which was almost a whole year ago! So much has happened since then and now. In this post, I’ll be talking about how I’ve actually been working on the next two steps of the process: developing my skills and marketing myself.

Text: Applying for and having an internship.
Image: white desk with a small potted plant, cell phone, notebook, and pen.

Unlike some other majors, an internship is not required for an English degree. Although it may be optional, I personally believe that many careers related to CLA put a big emphasis on experiences and skills which could be gained through internships.

Being a part of the College of Liberal Arts as an English major has helped me become more independent when it comes to internships and my career path–mainly because it’s difficult to find resources when you’re the only one in your social group that is going towards the editing field. Instead of asking around for internships, I started to look up multiple opportunities on my own that related to not just my career goal as an editor, but also to my interests. And what better place to start than GoldPASS?

Since I kept my profile up-to-date, some jobs were already recommended for me which is what I scrolled through to find anything that interested me. One of them was the Hmong Outreach Intern for The Arc Minnesota, a non-profit organization that promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Although it wasn’t directly related to editing, I felt that it was something I could see myself going towards as a career path since I have been interested in working with the Hmong community and at one point had considered majoring in Special Education.

Many, if not all, internships require a resume and a cover letter along with the application. Both provide you with a chance to market yourself in different ways. On my resume I listed off my skills and some of the most relatable duties I’ve done. While in my cover letter, I was able to explain more of why I want the position and how I could benefit the company rather than repeating my skills. I soon received an interview offer where I further explained both in more detail. Always make sure to relate your skills and experiences back to the company’s duties and mission.

I eventually got offered the position and got to experience what a career in and out of the office would be like. I’ve always imagined that an internship would provide me that breakthrough into the full-time work force and answer all the questions I had because I’ve always heard of how amazing internships were. Although my supervisor helped cater the internship to assist me in my editing career, I felt closed off from the organization itself. 

Charts in Hmong and English
Project sample from Paying’s internship that she shared during her Instagram takeover during the summer.

There were so many working parts that created one well-working organization, however my roles did not coincide with theirs. Instead, I only interacted with other interns in my room or my supervisor for the whole internship. I never really had an answer for when others asked what I learned from the internship because I didn’t know what to say. However reflecting back on it, I realized how beneficial it actually was.

I was able to figure out for myself which types of work environments I enjoyed and didn’t. I also gained skills working with supervisors and what I can do to better the experience and help benefit everyone in the best possible way. I realized that not every experience and/or opportunity will be exactly as you hope, but that doesn’t mean you should just get it done and over with. Gain those skills you need, make those connections, and use everything to your advantage. 

Now that I have another experience under my belt, as well as more ways to market myself, I am slowly beginning manage my career plan. Remember, just because you have reached another obstacle or are going down a detour, don’t give up! This opportunity could be the eye opener you need to better plan your career and future.

Of Possible Interest:
Planning Your Career
• Did You Have an Internship You Didn’t Like? Part 1; Part 2
Career Planning – all our blog posts on the topic
• Confessions of a Former English Major Part 1; Part 2

Read Paying’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Dose Media; @umdcareers Instagram

The Desk Essentials

By: Kendra

So you just got your first job after graduation and your first day is tomorrow … First off, congratulations! Second, what are you going to bring with you? I am sure you will bring your keys, wallet, and a cup of coffee/tea (of course), but what else might you need? With all of the nerves and excitement that comes with getting a job after graduation, no one worries about what to bring with them to make their life at work easier.

Image: white notepads and gold binder clips on white desk
Text: The desk essentials

I asked a few professional staff what sorts of random items they have in their desks that come in handy and here is what I found:

  • Deodorant — No one likes to be smelly at work!
  • Lint roller — You never know what sorts of dust and fuzzies will stick to you throughout the day.
  • Stain remover — A stain on your top or pants would be embarrassing!
  • Fidget items — For the long days when you just can’t quite sit still.
  • Hand weights — Do some exercising during your breaks!
  • Shoes — If it is rains or snows, you have nothing to worry about because you have dry, warm shoes waiting for you in your office.
  • Nail clipper and nail file — Sometimes you just need to clip your nails or remove a pesky hangnail.
  • Earring backs — You never know when the back of your earring will fall off!
  • Bandages — Blisters, paper cuts, hangnails, etc.
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste — You’re safe if you forget to brush in the morning and if you have some garlicky pasta for lunch.
  • Small mirror — Perfect for touching up make-up, hair, or just making sure you have nothing in your teeth!
  • Pain medication — Don’t let a headache ruin your day.
  • Thank you cards — It is always nice to send thank you cards after meetings with important people in your workplace, having these available will make it super easy to do!
  • Coffee mugs — You might like to offer coffee or tea to people you meet with.
  • Sewing kit — You never know when a seam will come loose.
  • Shoe polish — Clean the scuffs and dust off of your shoes to keep yourself looking put together!
  • Screen cleaner — It is amazing how dirty a computer screen can get. Keep it clean and clear with some screen cleaner.
  • Glasses cleaner — No one likes a smudgy pair of spectacles!

Getting a new job after graduation is exciting! Even if you don’t have a job where you are seated at a desk, having some of these items in your car, purse, or backpack can be really handy. This is not to say that you need every single one of these items, but it allows you to think of things that might be helpful to have with you as you go to work each day because you never know what might happen. I wish you the best of luck with your new job and hope that having some of these items was of help for you!

Of Possible Interest:
What to Bring on the First Day of Work
On the Job – all our blog posts on the topic
Now That You’re On The Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Read Kendra’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Stil Classics

Planning for Summer

By: Rachel

It’s getting to that point in the semester where you might be starting to think about what you’ll be doing this summer, if you don’t have plans already. For some who are graduating in May, you’re searching for your first full-time job, while others may be hoping for an internship or co-op to gain experience. Maybe you have plans to study abroad or do some traveling of your own.  

Summer can be a great season of growth, but there can also be great pressure on students to nail down the perfect plan. Some students dream of crossing adventures off their bucket list and seizing the break from school as a chance to take time for their personal life. Others are hoping to develop professionally through some career-related experience or an internship. For some, summer is also a time to get back on track financially and develop new skills or take some classes towards their major.

The first step to nailing down your summer plans is to know yourself and what you want/need to get out of this summer. While I don’t mean to stress you out (right now let’s just make it through the semester!), some plans won’t come together overnight. Putting in a little work now to the extent you are able can really save you a lot of stress down the road. For this post, I’m going to be addressing those who are looking for a job or internship and providing just a few tips I have to help ease the burden of what can be an overwhelming task.

One of the earliest things you need to do is determine your priorities. These will look different for everyone, so consider what type of field you’re aiming for, the amount of hours you’d like to work, and the geographic area you’d like to live in. Also reflect on which factors hold the most importance to you. Maybe you’re considering multiple fields but you are limited to a small geographic area. Or perhaps you are open to how many hours you work and whether or not the experience is paid but you are set on a specific field. Setting these priorities will help limit and guide your search.

Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to start looking; the question is where? There are countless options for discovering job opportunities, but I want to highlight a few you might not have thought of.

The first option I like to recommend is GoldPASS powered by Handshake. This is a vetted job board available to University of Minnesota students. Other general online job boards might not provide the kind of postings you’re looking for if you’re searching for a very specific field or location.  

Image: black sunglasses on beach sand with water in background
Text: Planning for Summer

A few other options to consider:

  • This nonprofit job board provided by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits includes full time, part time, paid and unpaid internship, and volunteer positions across the state.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your network to see if they know of any opportunities. It can be a little nerve-wracking—I know this is something that makes me feel a little hesitant—but after all, this is the point of having a network. Contact past employers, family members, mentors, peers, etc.  You might be surprised by which connection leads to a position. This can be done in person, via email, through LinkedIn, or over other platforms; it’s just essential you communicate appropriately and respectfully. One benefit of finding opportunities through your network is your contact will be able to give you a better idea of company culture, environment, and your fit within the organization than a simple Internet search.
  • If job posting sites aren’t yielding the results you’d hoped for, do some research on your own of companies you think you’d like to work for.  Dig a little deeper and see if there are any career opportunities posted through their website. You will likely find a contact you could reach out to as to whether or not they’d be willing to take you on.  This calls for a letter of inquiry; if you need guidance crafting one, look here.
  • Contact people within your major or department of interest. There might even be an employer relations or internship coordinator within your program who is connected with numerous organizations looking to hire students. Maybe there’s a professor who conducts research in an area you’re particularly interested in. Initiate a conversation, because chances are, this professor has some connections in the industry. Another option might be working for a professor directly, which can open the door to many fruitful contacts in the future.

The biggest tip I’d like to leave you with is keep your mind open. You might follow along these steps: reflecting on your goals, determining your priorities, and conducting your search, and it may seem like all you run into are closed doors. If and when that happens, I encourage you to widen your perspective a bit. While it’s important to know your limits, it can be healthy to take on a position that didn’t seem perfect at first. Sometimes those positions are the ones that help you grow and provide the most guidance for your future career. Wherever you end up, give it your best effort and be open to the lessons that are sure to follow.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Building Your Resume – all our blog posts on the topic
Do More with your Summer
Internships; Boost Your Career in College; Ace the Job Search – our Pinterest boards filled with resources & articles

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Ethan Robertson

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

Top 10 New Blog Posts for 2018

We published over 50 new blog posts during 2018, and there is so much more good content coming your way during 2019. Here’s a look at the top ten blog posts (based purely on the numbers) published in 2018.

wood desk top with mac laptop, cup of coffee, and notebook. Text: top new blog posts of 2018

Brutal Honesty
Advantages of Being a Peer Educator
Major Exploration: Cultural Entrepreneurship (CUE)
STEM Major Preps for UMN Job Fair
Internship Relocation Challenges: Part 2 Socially Relocating
Career Planning Process: Explore Options
How to Make the Most of Winter Break as a Senior
Tori’s Senior Bucket List
Professional Clothes on a Budget
How to Dress for the Job Title You Want

Photo Source: Unsplash | rawpixel

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