Wrapping up Your Internship – good suggestions for leveraging your internship experience!

Wrapping Up Your Internship
by Ronisha Goodwin – Re-Posted from Student Branding Blog

With the arrival of August comes the final weeks of summer and for many students the final weeks of their internships. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the countdown of days remaining until you return home or are back on campus, here’s a few items for you to accomplish before wrapping up your internship.

Gather Contact Information
It is likely that you made valuable contacts during your experience; therefore you want to be sure to get the business cards of those individuals who you want to maintain relationships with before leaving your internship site. You should also invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. Making them part of your LinkedIn network is an easy way for you to stay in touch and updated on their future promotions or professional career moves.

Solicit Feedback
Before your last day, you want to ensure that you receive feedback on your performance. At Hyatt, each one of our interns receives a final evaluation that is reviewed with them before the conclusion of their internship. If the organization you interned with this summer does not have a formal evaluation process for interns, take the time to solicit informal feedback by scheduling time in advance with your direct manager or supervisor. Depending upon their availability, perhaps the two of you can meet for coffee or lunch.

You may want to let them know in advance the goal for your meeting. Perhaps when inviting them, say “Before the end of my internship, can we have coffee or lunch together? I value your opinion and would like to hear any feedback or advice you have for me on how effective I was this summer and how I can be even more successful during future internships.” This will allow your supervisor some time to gather their thoughts and suggestions in advance.

You may also want to consider preparing a few questions, no more than 5 total, that can help the conversation between the two of you be even more targeted. Be mindful that the questions are open-ended and are truly questions that you want answered. In other words, be sure to ask good questions!   Depending upon their feedback, you may also want to ask for a reference or recommendation letter or their permission to use them as a professional reference.

Discuss Next Steps
If you really enjoyed your internship and want to grow further with the organization, be sure to inquire about opportunities to do so. I’m a big believer that “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed”, so if you want to intern with them again or perhaps come aboard permanently, make sure your desires are known. Do this by sharing your interests during a one-on-one meeting with your supervisor or circling back to your recruiter and asking about next steps if you want to stay or return to the organization.

Lastly, be sure to say thank you! Either via email or a handwritten thank you note (my favorite!), you want to take the time to extend your gratitude and perhaps share what you liked or enjoyed most about your internship experience. Industry is very small, so you want to leave your internship on a positive note and with the clarity that if you were to run into the individuals you worked with this summer that they would be happy to see you!

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Grammar Police

Here’s a poignant and thoughtful article about why one employer won’t hire people who cannot properly use a comma. Take notes and enjoy!

I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

by Kyle Wiens – Harvard Business Review

If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss’s more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar “stickler.” And, like Truss — author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves — I have a “zero tolerance approach” to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have “zero tolerance.” She thinks that people who mix up their itses “deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave,” while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job — even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can’t distinguish between “to” and “too,” their applications go into the bin.

Of course, we write for a living. iFixit.com is the world’s largest online repair manual, and Dozuki helps companies write their own technical documentation, like paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals. So, it makes sense that we’ve made a preemptive strike against groan-worthy grammar errors.

But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.

Good grammar makes good business sense — and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn’t in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?

Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Grammar signifies more than just a person’s ability to remember high school English. I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing — like stocking shelves or labeling parts.

In the same vein, programmers who pay attention to how they construct written language also tend to pay a lot more attention to how they code. You see, at its core, code is prose. Great programmers are more than just code monkeys; according to Stanford programming legend Donald Knuth they are “essayists who work with traditional aesthetic and literary forms.” The point: programming should be easily understood by real human beings — not just computers.

And just like good writing and good grammar, when it comes to programming, the devil’s in the details. In fact, when it comes to my whole business, details are everything.

I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important. And I guarantee that even if other companies aren’t issuing grammar tests, they pay attention to sloppy mistakes on résumés. After all, sloppy is as sloppy does.

That’s why I grammar test people who walk in the door looking for a job. Grammar is my litmus test. All applicants say they’re detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it.

[[Editors’ note: If you’re interested in improving your writing skills, please consider our Guide to Better Business Writing book]]

The Helicopter Parent Graduates… and Gets a Job?

This morning, an article titled “Helicopter Parents Hover in the Workplace” on NPR.org caught my eye. It caught my eye because in my nearly four years of working on a university campus, I have dealt with more helicopter parents than I care to count. Working in career services, particularly during my time working with the internship requirement here in SPEA, I was a special target for parents. At least once per month (more during the summer months), I would have a parent call me either on behalf of their child or without their child knowing it, to check on the progress of their student in their internship OR to complain about the evils of paying for college credit so that their kid could do an unpaid internship. Being empathetic while as helpful as I possibly could be, I found, was the best tactic.

Many of those students from the past couple of years have graduated and moved on. Needless to say, they took their parents with them.

So what does this have to do with the article? Well, many of those parents have followed their children right into the workplace… regardless of whether or not the child wanted them to come along. So, how have employers been dealing with this?

Turns out, my tactic of listening to the parents, addressing their concerns head on, and trying to ally yourself with them is EXACTLY the tactic that most employers are also taking. Huzzah!

I will not walk you through the nitty-grittys of the article. You can read it yourself.

What should students learn from this article? Well, first off, if you want your parent to intervene on your behalf, that is fine. Just be sure that you know what kind of impact that leaves with university staff as well as employers.

Do you want to know what staff and faculty think when a parent calls to ask a question for a student? “If the student wants to know, they should either call or come in and ask the question themselves. They are adults.”

There is something to be said for the students who are proactive and take charge of their education and their employment. Just take a look at the last line from the article, which is a direct quote from an employer. I believe it sums up my thoughts perfectly.

” ‘While we appreciate what you’re trying to do,’ she says, ‘actually your son [or daughter] would be much better off by showing the initiative, and focusing and committing to their career search themselves.’

A solid job hunting tip for both generations.”

FYI: You Are Not Special Anymore

Remember how back in elementary school, you were taught that you were special, like a snowflake?

Well, I have some bad news for you. You are unique, yes. Everyone is made up of a special combination of skills and personality traits that ensures that no two humans are alike.

However, because we are all unique, no one is special, not even you.

My parents (unlike some other parents — see Helicopter Parents and Parent-Driven Child-Entitlement Syndrome) always told me that I was unique and was really good at things, but they always reminded me that “…someone will always be better than you at XYZ skill. That is why you work as hard as you can.”

Is not being special such a bad thing?? No. Not really. Why would I crush your dreams like this? WHY!?

Simple. Employers want employees who are confident, but not arrogant. One must be humble, yet learn the proper way to approach people about jobs and internships, and learn how to sell oneself in an interview. This takes LOTS of practice. Trust me.

Another thing that we in career services see on a daily basis that must stop (other than the arrogance), is impatient people emailing employers demanding that they pass along information either about a job posting or demanding that someone pass their resume along to a human resources person. I feel like this also stems from the arrogance previously pointed out.

Does this mean it is wrong to ask an alum or contact to pass along your information? No. By all means, ask. However, it is HOW you ask that is very, very important. Again, this is something that takes practice. When in doubt, send the email to us at Career Services first! We will make sure your email hits the right “tone” before you send it along to a potential employer.

So – Lessons to learn from this?

  1. Arrogance never sells. Learn how to properly curb your confidence and sell yourself in the RIGHT way. Set up a meeting with a career adviser to do a mock interview first.
  2. Emails last forever, so don’t be pushy. Again, email it to us first. Tone is everything and we want to make sure you get it right.
  3. You are an adult, therefore your parents should never contact (phone or email) anyone on your behalf… not even the University. I know they do it because they love you, but at some point, you have to cut them off. Now is the best time to start.
  4. Patience is a requirement, not just a virtue. When emailing or calling about internships or jobs, learn to give people a couple of weeks to send you a response. That person is probably really busy (since they work full-time) and to be quite blunt, you are not a priority. Give people at least 2 weeks to answer. If, after two weeks, you hear nothing, then politely follow up to see if they received your first email.

The Fine Line of Appropriate and Inappropriate Interview Apparel

Like every other morning before this one, I rode the bus to work. I always see, hear, or smell interesting things on the bus – always. That is to be expected on public transit in a college town. What I saw this morning was not surprising at all, but it did make me wonder where women get their ideas about what is appropriate and what is inappropriate to wear to an interview.

Ladies, we need to have a talk. No, not that one. If you didn’t learn that in school, then ask your parents.

Where – I repeat – Where did you learn what is acceptable to wear in an interview?

Before you answer, do not even think about saying anything that resembles “Sex in the City,” or “What not to wear.” I’m sorry, but we live in Indiana, not New York or Paris.

At this point, you have to be wondering what the heck I saw that could throw me into a rambling spiral like this. Well, there was a young woman on the bus this morning dressed, quite obviously, for an interview. From the waist up, she looked fabulous! She had on a black suit jacket and dressy, trendy shirt on with a long necklace. The jacket was clean and tailored and her shirt, while not a collared button-up, was high enough on her chest to be appropriate. Lovely outfit (so far).

Then there was her skirt… or lack of it. Okay, have you ever seen those movies that take place in the fifties and the girls in school are required to kneel on the floor to see if their skirts touch the floor? I’m not saying you should go to that extreme, but I should not be able to see your upper thigh at ANY time (NO NO NO!). I am not saying “wear a skirt like your mom.” I have 2 black skirts at home that  are knee-length, but fitted and stylish while remaining professional. Yes, it CAN be done.

Here are some general rules when shopping for professional dress:

  1. Are you in college? Then do not buy anything for an interview from the “Juniors” section. I’m serious. You are not a junior anymore.
  2. Dress for the job you want. For many jobs, this means overdressing. I don’t care how casual the job may be once you get there, you have to GET the job first, so dress to impress.
  3. If you have nagging doubts in the back of your mind about a piece of clothing that you are wearing, it is probably time to change. Unless you are fully confident and comfortable, you will not do well in the interview.

When in doubt, pull on a pair of black pants. They still look good with heels and if you pair tailored pants with cute jacket and the right accessories, you will not look too conservative. I promise.

To recap: