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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 Bear – Conquering Your Fears

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 17, 2009 in Building Confidence, Self Improvement, Thinking Positive

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There’s a famous fable about a skunk, a lion and a hawk who debated as to which of them was the most dangerous and feared animal in the jungle.

The hawk claimed to be “top dog”: “I win because I hit ’em from above, and from above, I have the best view of all. I can see things nobody else can!”

The lion rejoined: “Nonsense! I’m the most powerful animal of all, with the longest, sharpest, teeth and claws. I’m the most dangerous, for sure!”

Then the skunk said: “I can stink up the whole jungle and run out every man or beast in the territory.”

And so they argued, on and on, until a big old bear came along and swallowed the three of them, Hawk, Lion and Stinker!

With the uncertainty we are all faced with every day, losing your job is high on the list of people’s fears right now.  Anxieties are high in both the executive office and in the sea of cubicles where all the work is actually done.  Here are a couple of tips for quelling your anxieties so you can conquer your fears so if the Bear (layoffs) comes along, it won’t kill you.

  • 1. Start by identifying the source of your worry.   In the case of your job is it the loss of pay or the dreaded job search that you just don’t feel like doing right now? Talking to someone about your fears or concerns can help differentiate between the products of your imagination and those things truly deserving of worry. It helps to know if the source of your worry is something you can control, or something over which you have no control. If the cause of your worry is something you can affect, then channel that worry into action.
  • 2. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen if my fear becomes reality?”  Think it through logically.  If you are prepared for the worst, you can make a pro-active plan for dealing with the cause of your worry and then carry it through. Such a reaction is a positive use of worry helping you to overcome potential problems and threats. However, if there is nothing you can do about the source of your worry, it’s just as important to act to counter that worry, rather than letting it build up harmfully inside you. You need to learn to let go. If something beyond your control might happen, it either will or won’t. Worrying about it will produce only harmful, not positive results.
  • 3. Another strategy is to simply switch gears. Think of something over which you do have control. Turn to an enjoyable activity, perhaps with a friend, and focus on that rather than the source of your worry. Look to exercise, a fantastic way to relieve stress, burn calories, decrease depression and refocus your attention. Your goal is to stop the worry before it has the opportunity to take control of your emotions and thoughts. You must work quickly and strike when you first become aware of the negative thoughts that fuel worry. Do something, no matter how small, to help you refocus: exercise, splash cold water on your face, snap a rubber band, call a friend, or even imagine a big flashing stop sign in your mind’s eye.

Admittedly, it does take practice to refocus your thoughts away from worry to something positive. However, it can soon become second nature to relax, exercise or change thoughts, rather than resorting to counterproductive worrying.

And sharing your worry in the workplace with colleagues is just like putting leftovers in a trashcan at your campsite in the jungle…the Bear will come straight to you if you invite him!

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on Amazon.com!
and TEN STEPS TO FINDING THE PERFECT JOB…available on Amazon.com! 

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