Landing a Job or Internship

By: Logan

At some point in your college career you will be searching for either an internship or job. This process is far from easy and is a lengthy, exhausting process. Whether you are graduating soon or looking to gain some experience in your field, the job search is fast-paced, competitive, and very exciting. In this blog post I will be explaining the steps I took to decide which job I wanted to accept upon graduation, and I hope this post can help someone out who is in a similar position.

I have been lucky enough to receive multiple job offers during my job search, but these did not just fall into my lap. I was proactively searching and applying for jobs far more than any of my friends, and I believe this gave me an advantage. I started early (early February for a May graduation) before many people had even begun their search. This is one point I touched on with my last blog post, try to apply early before your dream position is filled! There were many other steps I took to get my name out there. I went to the job fair, I applied to positions on multiple databases, and reached out to relatives and friends who may have known of available positions. This is how I found the companies I was interested in and got my name out to employers.

One thing I learned recently was how beneficial Spring Break can be in the job search. Yes, I understand most people would rather be laying on a beach or going on a road trip, but if you are like me and are not able to indulge in these experiences you should make the most out of your time on break. After networking with employers online and through the job fair, I scheduled in-person interviews during Spring Break when I knew I had no class and would be closer to these companies. Over my Spring Break I attended 4 in-person interviews, one phone interview, and one Skype interview. Seems like a bit of overkill, I know. Not everyone needs this many, but I was proactive, curious, and wanted to see what was out there. Also, I had nothing better to do. Setting up these interviews early is crucial in the job search because you show your initiative and drive by reaching out to companies long before graduation.

This is where the fun began. I ended up receiving four offers for jobs, and I had mixed emotions about this. Yes, it felt good to know my skills were wanted in the workplace, but how would I ever decide which one to take? This is where reaching out to all the resources you have available will benefit you. I made my decision by looking at each job from every angle. I thought about the environment of the workplace, do I feel like I would fit in? What is the typical age of others in my position? Next, I put compensation and benefits into consideration. I could understand the salary and commission pieces, but I didn’t know a lot about benefits and insurance, so I reached out to my mom and had her read it over and tell me what she thought. Since many of us students have never had a full-time job, we may know little about how good the benefits are, so it is a good idea to reach out to someone who has been through it before. I also put geographic location into consideration. Where can I see myself living? What is the cost of living in each of these areas? Do I have any family or friends in this area? And of course, you have to consider the type of work. Where do I have experience? What kind of work do I enjoy? Can I see myself moving up in this company? There are definitely many things to consider, and this made my choice very difficult.

I think the question that made me think the most and ultimately helped me come to my decision was, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” This made me think about how long I could see myself staying with a company, and if I could see myself doing this for a while, and it was something I hadn’t thought about very much. To come to my decision, I reached out to my parents, brother, friends, and spoke with a counselor at UMD Career and Internship Services, and altogether I got a variety of viewpoints and opinions. All of these viewpoints, combined with me thinking through each of the questions I stated above, helped me come to my decision. Ultimately, you are the only one who knows what you like, so you have to make the decision. It is also important to keep in mind most people do not find their dream job straight out of college. If you realize this is not the job for you, you can always begin the job search again.

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The Internal Battle of Internships

By: Cassie

The huge thing right now is internships. Everyone is trying to get one to get experience in their field and to be able to have access to a company. Many people (including myself) have to have an internship in order to graduate. This added pressure of NEEDING to get one, on top of the pressure of seeing your friends and classmates try and get them, can be very daunting. Well, I am here to tell you today that these feelings are TOTALLY REASONABLE and you’re not the only one feeling this way.

You may be thinking that you are the only one struggling to get an internship and it seems like everyone around you is snapping up positions. Well trust me, you aren’t the only one. I have applied for around 10 internships for this summer. That’s right, 10. I have put so much time, effort, and hope into applying for them and it felt like I was going nowhere. This really bothered me for the last month. I have plenty of work experience, I am involved in clubs, and I like to think that I can write a cover letter. It was a super discouraging experience. I really didn’t know what I was doing wrong and I really didn’t know what to do. But I talked to my mom, and my friends, and the people at Career & Internship Services and I finally turned the situation into a positive one.

I decided that it’s okay that I haven’t gotten an internship for the summer. It is SO competitive to get an internship and now is not the time for me. I have still been reaching out to companies, but I have been doing so in applying for actual jobs that can still help me in my major. If I get rejected from these jobs, I have been putting aside the contact so I can contact them closer to my graduation. I will be able to find something for the summer whether it be a part-time job, a full-time job, or even just volunteering, I know I will be able to find something that will get me involved in my career path. I also know that getting involved, even if it wasn’t the way I originally wanted to, will open so many doors for me to get an internship for next year. So, my final thoughts are that, yes, getting an internship is tough, but you just have to look at the positives and persevere. Get help if you need it and remember you are awesome and can do this!!!!

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Multiple Internship Advantage

By: Kirsi

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Astronaut user testing in ISS Mock-Ups, by Kirsi.

Besides the obvious increased likelihood full-time employment and extra spending money, there are several advantages for interning more than once.

Where Do I Like To Work?
If you have determined you like the organization you have interned with before, you can participate in additional internships there and hone in on what division you enjoy working with the most. There could be many departments your education qualifies you to work with. For example, at my Rockwell Automation internship, my technical education qualified me to work with the robotic, firmware testing, or software development. You may find you enjoy the work you do at each of those departments equally but find the department’s work values, team synergy, and personal development opportunities are very different. It was a lesson learned about who you work with in your first internship at a department may be different people by the time of your second internship at the same department. Team dynamics can change. (I still had a good experience, fortunately.) It is important to base your opinion about an experience on short and long-term characteristics of the workplace. At my four (going on five) NASA internshipCo-Op experiences, the departments I have worked with have been so different and would lead to different career trajectories. For example, I have worked in groups that work with human factors engineering, propulsion engineering, International Space Station (ISS) network support, and ISS stowage operations. Jumping around different departments gives you the opportunity to identify the trajectories full-time employees took to get where they are, especially if you find a higher level position you admire. Even if you don’t end up working at this organization full-time there are likely a similar hierarchy of departments at other organizations within your discipline.

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View of aurora and stars from ISS, by NASA.

How Much Can I Contribute?
If you intern more than once you can skip the mechanics of new intern orientation, getting used to the workplace and dive right into your project. As a returning intern, your mentors may trust you with a more complex project or let you continue on a project you already started. In Fall 2015, I developed astronaut training for a device that was sent to the ISS. Astronauts used this training and learned how to use the device during their mission. This semester, Spring 2017, I am working with a sister department developing a new app for the device which could make stowage operations easier for the astronauts. My previous knowledge working with the device and familiarity working with the team gives me an advantage to complete meaningful work. Even if you return to the same organization, but work with a different department, you are already familiar with the organization’s goals and mission statement.

Multiple Internship

Source: Unsplash | Tim Gouw

What is this Organization’s Culture?
Likely you were preoccupied with your getting your project done at your first internship opportunity to absorb the organization’s work culture. Larger organizations often have pockets of personal development groups. Repeating internships at an organization can give you a feel of annual events the organization hosts to boost moral, re-familiarize employees with the organization’s mission, or just have fun. At NASA Johnson there is an imperative Health and Safety Day that employees prep months for, contribute to by volunteering and enjoy. The Health and Safety day provides free flu shots, hosts a blood pressure station, shares changes in space center safety improvements, and encourages personal health improvement. Additionally, NASA hosts pre-screenings of space movies, organizes STEM volunteer opportunities and award ceremonies following successfully competed ISS missions. If you participate in multiple internships at varying organizations you can get a flavor for each company’s culture.

Consider starting your internship/ Co-Op hunt before your junior and senior year of college so you can participate in more than one!

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Internship Search: Writing an Internship Resume

By: Lexi

You’ve found an internship to apply to, now you need to polish up your resume and most likely, a cover letter. Writing resumes for internships are hard because you probably do not have a lot of experience, otherwise, you would not be applying for an internship position. But you still have to find a way to make yourself stand out from the other applicants who also do not have a lot of experience. Hopefully, these tips will help you land that internship you’re hoping for!

internship-resume

Make your academics section a focus.
This is not saying experience is not important, but since you do not have as much experience make your academics section stick out. Include courses you’ve taken or big projects you’ve worked on. Only put coursework you think the employer will find relevant, though.

Experience included can be paid or unpaid.
Think about the significance and relevance of each opportunity you have partaken in. If you put your part-time job working in the food industry on your resume because that is the work experience you have, go for it, but really think about the skills you gained from the job. Use action verbs to describe your experience. For example, you could say: Maintained and balanced friendly customer service in a fast pace environment. This shows that you have the ability to work in a time efficient manner while preserving good service. Jobs, where you were paid, are important experiences to include, but so are unpaid experiences like volunteering and/or leadership positions. Do not forget to include those too, they will help you stand out! Highlighting your on-campus student organization involvement and leadership can also add to your internship resume.

Read the internship description first.
Read what the employers would expect from an intern and first of all, make sure you have the ability or willingness to learn what they would expect from you. The other reason you should read this before writing your resume is because it can give you an idea of the skill set they are looking for and then you can try to tie in those skills to your resume if you have them. This is another good tip for standing out because you will already have what they are looking for and then they might not have to spend as much time training you in.

Good luck on your internship search and hopefully these tips on how to write an internship resume will help you land the one you want! Remember, Career and Internship Services is more than happy to help look it over and give you further tips! Come to our resume drop-ins on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2-4pm in SCC 22.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Brandi ReddUnsplash | Brandi Redd

How to Have a Productive Winter Break

By: Lexi

You are finally done with your Fall semester and finals, hooray! It’s now time to relax, but do not forget to stay on top of things and use your time to stay productive. Spring semester will be here before you know it and you do not want to be behind!

Use time for reflection on the semester & set goals for the upcoming semester
Take a little bit of time to think about the semester you just finished. Think about what you did and didn’t do well. Use that information to make some goals and identify priorities for yourself for the next semester.

Build and expand professional networks
Reach out to people or companies you have been wanting to contact, but haven’t yet. Expand your horizons, you never know how it could develop your professional profile. This could be done online through email, LinkedIn, a phone call, or you could even ask if they would like to get coffee. Remember to thank them and ask if they have any suggestions of who else you could reach out to.

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Conduct informational interviews or job shadow
Informational interviews and job shadows are a great way to see if the profession you are thinking about is the right one for you. Most students do not have time to conduct these during the semester, so now that you are not in classes, take advantage of this time. This could also help you with career advice or confirm important classes that you should plan on taking.

Work more and save up
Rack up the hours at your job, if it’s possible! Winter break is a great time to save up to keep you on budget for the spring semester.

Apply for scholarships and internships for the summer
Many scholarships and internships are posted during this time, so start looking! It is better to start searching for these opportunities earlier rather than later, your chances will most likely be greater. If you need help with this, you can visit Career and Internship Services (we are open during winter break, except Dec 23rd-Jan 2nd).

Get volunteer hours in
Whether you need volunteer hours or you just want to give back to your community, the holiday season is one of the best times to do this! Use your free time to put some smiles on the faces of your fellow city residents.

Create a portfolio, LinkedIn profile, and/or revamp your resume
Now that you finished another semester, you probably have new projects, jobs, skills, and experiences you can add to your portfolio, LinkedIn, and resume. Take the time to update all of these so they are ready for when you start searching for a job or internship, then you will not have to frantically put all of these together at the last minute.

Hopefully, you will take advantage of this time when school is not crazy and do at least one of these suggestions. But do not forget to relax and enjoy your time off during the holidays, drink some hot chocolate, eat some cookies, and enjoy the twinkle lights with your family or friends. Happy Holidays!

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Photo source: Unsplash|Aaron Wilson

Did You Have an Internship You Didn’t Like? Part 2

By: Lexi

Since my former internship was not what I was expecting (check out part 1), it made me question myself and frankly, it made me freaked out about my future. Once I realized this, I decided to start focusing even more on the work that my supervisors performed. Their position was a career that I could potentially be doing in the future, so I watched and learned from them. But I quickly found out that being at the bottom of the totem pole was not the only reason I did not enjoy my internship. I recognized that the whole job in this area of work (the local government) is not a profession that I would like to do for the rest of my life.

dont-like-internship

Now I really started to stress out. What was I going to do with my life now? Do I have to completely change my major? Am I going to be in college forever? Should I take more exploration classes? Should I take a semester off? Who should I talk to and where should I go from here? I did not want to be going to school, spending a lot of money and time on a career path that I would not enjoy. All of these questions and more were running through my head, all the time.

From there, I started with two people for advice, my mother and Career and Internship Services (two of the best places for career advice, in my opinion). Career and Internship Services suggested that I talk to professors in my areas of study and also conduct informational interviews with professionals in areas that I am thinking about. This was the biggest advice I took into consideration. I started with my professors, they helped me stay calm about my studies and reassured me that I was not wasting my time. I then moved on to seeking out professionals in areas I was interested in. I even went to the job fair, just to ask employers if I could conduct informational interviews or job shadow with their employees. From following these steps and being open to new opportunities and change, I got a job out of it! I actually get to be in the field that I am strongly considering, to work along with professionals who could potentially be me one day.

From talking to all of these professors and professionals, it helped me change my attitude around from wanting to give up, to having hope that I was not wasting my time. From here on out, I am going to keep exploring these different careers and next semester I will take the last liberal education requirements that I need to. I did this so I am not taking all of my specific major classes, in case I do end up changing it. In the end, I did bounce back from my bad internship experience that made me question my major, it helped me learn so much and grow as a professional. I am still not completely sure what I will do in the future, but I will get there and if you are going through the same thing, you will too!

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Photo by: Unsplash | Amanda Sandlin

Did You Have an Internship You Didn’t Like? Part 1

By: Lexi

This past summer I was lucky enough to land an internship in my field of Urban and Regional Studies, receive credits to graduate, and an extra bonus, I got paid too! I was so excited to be in a professional setting to see what my career would be like after graduation, but it turned out to not be what I was anticipating or hoping for. Although I did take away a lot of new knowledge and skills, it is also making me question myself…Is this really the right field of study for me? Now what do I do?

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The reason my summer internship was not everything I was hoping for was because I did not enjoy the work I was doing; it’s hard to maintain motivation when you feel like the work you’re doing is simply busy work. I also felt as if I had a lot of free time because they were not giving me enough busy work, imagine that! This pushed me a little out of my comfort zone because I was constantly asking all of the supervisors for work or if they needed help with anything. Sure, I ended up just copying or stapling pamphlets a lot of the time, but it was better than staring at a computer screen driving myself to have a crazy headache. This also showed my superiors that I was a proactive worker, well I would like to think it did at least. As an intern, you have to realize that you are at the bottom of the totem pole, yet it stinks being at the bottom because the work can be boring. But remember, you have to start at the bottom to work your way to the top.

The other part that was difficult about the work was that I was given a lot of actual work, but I was not given direction. Of course it is nice to have room to be creative and add your own touch, but it is also scary because you really do not know if it is what your supervisor is looking for, and if it is not, they will not hesitate to keep sending it back to you until it is. Specifically, for my internship, one of the main reasons that the work I performed was not the most enjoyable was that I was not with the company long enough to see the end result. For example, the majority of the work I did was with new plans to improve cities. These plans would take at least a year to implement, but I only had my internship for four months. This was not rewarding because I never got to see my work actually being carried out or fulfilled.

So if you ever have an internship, co-op, or even a job that you do not enjoy, just stick it out. This is not your job for the rest of your life, and I know that you will take at the least one valuable skill away from your experience. Turn your attitude into a positive one and try to make the most out of it. What helped me get through my internship was to realize that the overall lessons I will take away will actually help me succeed in the working world. I now know how to better communicate with coworkers, manage difficult personalities, deal with stress, prioritize my workload, and work in a team environment. Now the big question for myself was what am I going to do with my career life now since I did not find what I thought I wanted to do pleasurable? If you want to know how I went forward with this big question, stay tuned for part 2.

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Photo by: Unsplash | Amanda Sandlin