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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 Busy Bees – Creating A Sustainable Internship Program For Small To Midsized Businesses

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 21, 2011 in Career Path

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So many flowers and so little time! Your small to midsized hive needs an extra set of honey bee hands for a couple of months and to cover for staff while they are out on summer vacations. There is a lot of honey needing to be made!

Students are a great resource for quick minds eager to learn. They are often up to date on the latest technology, are up and comers in the industry, and are a terrific way to screen potential employees once they are ready to start their careers.

Many colleges and universities require their students to graduate with at least one completed internship under their belts. This gives the students hands-on and practical work experience directly related to their career goals or field of interest. Employers who wish to take advantage of this pool of young talent should create a program which emphasizes professional development as well as provides constructive evaluation of the student’s performance including feedback on the program itself.

Internships are most often considered during the summer months when students will have more time to devote to their internship schedule, but internships can be offered throughout the year. School credit or pay can be offered at the company’s discretion. If the company wishes to offer school credit, they must meet the school’s requirements and submit an application to the school. This summer is a great time to think about starting a 4 to 8 week program for next summer depending on your business’ needs.

To create a sustainable internship program, you must first identify:
• Learning objectives.
• The tasks and responsibilities of the intern(s).
• Total compensation (paid, school credit, stipend, etc.).
• Supervisors/mentors who will guide the intern(s).
• People and concepts the intern(s) will encounter during their internship.
• Schedule of events not directly related to the tasks required of the intern(s) such as attending meetings, conferences, training, etc.
• Qualifications to perform certain tasks (must have(s)) which can be included in the job description
• Training and evaluation.
• Duration of internship (may be determined by whether it is paid or unpaid)
• How you will solicit interns (through the school website, various online internship databases, on the company website, word of mouth, etc.)

A successful internship program requires time and effort on the part of the supervisors. Drafting basic job descriptions as well as a tight, but flexible, schedule for the interns to follow is essential preparation as well as making sure that workspaces and necessary supplies have been arranged for.

5 steps to a successful program:
1. Prepare answers and materials for all of the above points so the internship period runs smoothly.
2. Orient and train the interns in your company’s business and include them in meetings with exposure to all levels of the company.
3. Utilize their skills by having them perform tasks that will challenge and educate with hands on experience.
4. Mentor– with opportunities for them to network and ask questions to benefit from others’ experience as well as shadow employees performing tasks that interns would not be permitted to complete. Research-based tasks are beneficial as well.
5. Evaluate their performance and success with required activities in the program and have them evaluate the program during and after with open communication. Follow up with the school if applicable.

Research your local colleges and universities and reach out to the deans about their internship requirements. No business is too small to have a formalized internship program. The University of Michigan’s Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute is an entrepreneurial studies program that could benefit from an internship at your startup company. Even if you are a small company you may find someone that ends up being a great long term hire. No company is too small!

Build it and they will come…and don’t forget to have fun! Interns can breathe new life into an organization with their enthusiasm. Go make some honey!

Special thanks to the recruiting department at Dixon Hughes Goodman for being a model program and the Michigan State University’s excellent website for tips on how to create a great internship program at your business. http://careernetwork.msu.edu/career-events-recruiting-schedule/hiring-interns.

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