Tips for Interning & Working Remotely

By: Rachel

At the end of my summer internship, I was asked if I’d be interested in continuing to work remotely once I returned to school in Duluth. As I quickly found out, working remotely can be an awesome opportunity, but it does bring some unique challenges. Whether you find yourself working remotely temporarily or more permanently, here are some tips I’ve learned in the past year to make the most of your experience:

Establish a routine. Among all the people I’ve talked to about working remotely, the most successful ones are those who stick to a routine. One of the biggest things many people enjoy about working remotely is the flexibility, and you can definitely take advantage of this, but try to set aside intentional times for work, meals, school, and personal interests. You’ll find this allows you maximize both the productivity and quality of whatever you’re focusing on.

In order to establish a routine that works for you, you’ll need to understand how you’re most productive. Do you work best in the morning or at night? Do you find your best time to exercise is the afternoon? Find what works for you and build your daily routine accordingly, recognizing it might change from day to day or over time.

Image: laptop computer sitting open on wood desktop
Text: Tips for interning and working remotely

Prepare for success. Take the time to set up a workspace and make sure you have all the equipment you’ll need. I’ve found it’s helpful to have one area dedicated to my work. Keeping this place organized and free of distractions helps me enter into the mindset to do my best work. Preparation can also be a daily practice of taking the time to get ready each day and having a morning routine before diving into work.

Optimize your work time. Some people find it’s helpful to set timers for work and break times. Personally, I try to be aware of where I keep my phone while working. When I need to focus, I’ll set it in a different room and only check it on breaks. Working remotely often requires a higher level of personal responsibility as you’re on your own, and I find lists to be really helpful in keeping track of everything I need to get done.

Connect with colleagues. You’ll probably find you need to adjust the way you communicate and collaborate with coworkers. This depends a lot on the nature of your role, but keep in mind the schedule you’ve created for yourself doesn’t necessarily align with the people you’re working with. Familiarize yourself with their routines so you know the best times to reach them. Keep in touch by checking in periodically whether that’s through an email, text, or conference call. While it can be more difficult when you aren’t there, it’s still important to stay updated on what’s happening within the company.

Make the experience fun! Motivate yourself by making your work time something you enjoy. To the extent your company allows, find some awesome playlists to listen to, create a workspace you’re excited to come to, wear what makes you happy and productive, and keep your favorite snacks on hand.

One of the biggest challenges with working remotely is maintaining work-life balance, so stay tuned for a blog post on tips for managing that to come!

Best, 
Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Internships, On the Job, Productivity & Wellness – all our blog posts on the topics
Now that You’re on the Job – our Pinterest board filled with articles & resources

Photo Source: Unsplash | Kari Shea

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