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The Chimpanzee – Social Tips For Internship Survival

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 10, 2012 in Career Path

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“5 Tips for Impressing Your Boss at an Internship”

In the African jungle, chimpanzees groom each other daily to solidify bonds with other community members. In the corporate jungle, helping out your co-workers during an internship can also help you develop relationships and improve your chances of survival.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, as the economy improves paid internships are on the rise. However, whether you are interning for a salary or for the learning experience, the relationships you develop at an internship will lead to valuable references and recommendations for the next steps in your career. Of all of these relationships, the one that you have with your boss is probably the most important. So how do you make the most of that opportunity? Here are five tips for impressing your boss at an internship.

1. Act like an employee.

One of the biggest mistakes interns make is acting as though an internship is just something that they are required to do. To make the most of your internship, whether it is paid or not, pick out the most positive cues that full-time employees are giving and follow them. For example, dress like others in the office even if the dress code for interns is more relaxed; offer to take a turn and bring in a treat if the office you’re working in has a snack day; or re-fill the coffee machine or copier as often as you can if it’s a shared responsibility. Make yourself part of the team and show that you have the savvy to fit into the environment of the workplace.

2. Keep busy – even when there is no work to do.

Since even a paid intern isn’t likely to be making as much as a full-time employee, managers often assign tasks to full-time employees first. By the end of the week, this might mean that there is no work for you to do. You should always ask your manager first if there is something to be done, but if there isn’t any work or your manager isn’t available, see what you can do besides surfing the internet. If the office plants need dusting or the shared copy room needs tidying, lend a hand. Offering to do filing for employees who seem to be drowning at their desks or just an extra hand to put together marketing packets will get you noticed as someone who is proactive and motivated. Even if your offers are not needed at the moment, advertising that you are available and enthusiastic will leave a great impression.

3. Be yourself.

When you leave your internship, you want others to remember you as a person, not as the temporary summer intern. The best way to make an impression is to be yourself, and not try to be someone else for the sake of impressing others. Be friendly, discuss common interests, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone you haven’t met yet. They could be a valuable reference.

4. Keep a positive attitude.

Interns have a unique place in the office hierarchy, and occasionally this can engender bad feelings. For instance, a manager might assign a project to an intern that a full-time employee wanted to work on. This isn’t any fault of the intern’s, but it isn’t as though the intern can re-assign the project to the employee who wanted it, either. When office conflicts like these come up, it’s best to keep a positive attitude and not get caught up in recriminations. The worst thing you can do is be remembered as the intern who couldn’t rise above office politics.

5. End with a thank you.

Whether or not you learned anything impressive during your internship, if you want to encourage your boss to remember you in a positive light you should make an effort to thank him or her before your departure. Save the thank you letter for your next job interview; schedule a face to face meeting with your manager and let him or her know what you learned because of their leadership and direction. At this stage, it’s okay to exaggerate a little – for instance, if your manager tried to teach you something but you ended up having to ask someone else for further clarification, go ahead and give your manager the credit. On the same note, you can also let your manager know who else really helped you. Giving out such kudos will definitely help your manager remember you later, as the intern who made the most of the opportunity and wasn’t afraid to give credit where credit was due. You might even get called back for the next open full-time position.

This guest post was contributed by Laura McPherson. Laura writes for Masters in Accounting, a career resource for learning about getting started in the accounting career field.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Binturongs – How To Become A Keystone Species In Your Work Environment

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Sep 24, 2010 in Career Path, Executive Coaching, Self Improvement

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BinturongThe jungle is full of animals that play different ecological roles. Some play more critical roles than others, and there are some animals, known as keystone species, that actually maintain the structure of their ecological communities. Without them, communities become unstable and can even start to die off one species at a time. The loss of a keystone species often sets off a chain reaction that ends in a community’s destruction because it’s impossible for the other animals to replicate the functions performed by the keystone species. To get a better understanding of how a keystone species becomes so important to an entire ecological community, let’s take a look at the following example.

The Indispensable Binturong

Binturongs, or Asian bear cats, are now a target species for conservation because of their important role in sustaining the rainforest environment. They perform a task that can’t be accomplished by any other animal, which makes them an asset that the community can’t afford to lose. Binturongs are the only known animals on the planet that have digestive enzymes capable of softening the seed coat of the Strangler Fig. So what? Well, the Strangler Fig also has an indispensable role: without it, the rainforest canopy is unsustainable. And without a canopy, everything growing on the forest floor is exposed to excessive amounts of sunlight, resulting in diminished plant life and a quickly evaporating food supply for herbivores. This chain reaction can go so far as to kill entire rainforest communities if binturongs are not reintroduced.

Becoming the Binturong in Your Rainforest

So how do you become an irreplaceable employee? It’s a growing concern in this economy, with layoffs removing many species from the rainforests and jungles. But there are ways to make sure that your boss won’t even consider eradicating you: become the binturong with these tips.

1. Increase your productivity – If you were a binturong, you’d be busy all day long eating those Strangler Figs and distributing seeds. Find out what needs to be accomplished in your own environment and make sure that you’re the one getting it done. Of course, you can’t do everything, but delegating and building yourself up within the community’s hierarchy will get you on your way to becoming a keystone species.

2. Adapt to meet demands – Binturongs are focused on survival, which keeps their ecological communities alive as a result. Start thinking about your ability to survive without your company. Chances are that you’ll develop some skills that can be used to elevate your status at work. For example, stay updated on technological developments that can increase workplace efficiency, identify and improve weak skills, and join professional organizations so you can attend workshops and conferences. By listening to your survival instincts, you’ll be improving and sustaining your entire ecological community.

3. Interact with key species – Even if you’re a keystone species, you still have to answer to your boss. Let him or her know how invaluable you are by increasing the amount of time you spend together. Isolated species are seldom community keystones, so increasing your interaction with the animals around you can make you appear more integral to the sustainability of your environment. Help colleagues and superiors to recognize your importance by becoming more visible and giving more face time while maintaining a high level of productivity.

Guest post contributed by Alexis Bonari. Alexis is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She spends much of her days blogging about Education and CollegeScholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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