Friday, April 29, 2011

Making the Most of Your Summer Internship

At last week’s pre-departure orientation meeting we reviewed business etiquette, professionalism, and what it means to be a successful intern. And while we touched on the importance of making the most of your summer, I wish we’d had the time to really break it down for these students about to set off on what could really be a vital career exploration experience. For those of you soon-to-be-interns, here’s some advice on making the most out of your experience:
  • Ask to help out on the projects you’re interested in. Don’t wait to be asked, rather inquire as to whether you could take on some additional responsibilities helping out on that project that has really piqued your interest. Not only will you demonstrate you’re a high achiever and self-starter, but you’ll have the chance to take on some interesting work you might not otherwise have had access to.
  • Shadow and/or talk to people outside your department. Many students take, for-instance, a marketing internship, but are also considering human resources as a possible career path. If you’re at a company or organization that has other departments you might be interested in, see if you can spend a day or an afternoon not only building your network, but getting a feel for what this kind of work is like. Once you’re a couple of weeks in, talk to your supervisor and see about arranging an informational interview or a shadowing opportunity with others in the company.
  • Ask smart questions. Don’t understand something? Want to learn more about a company project? Wonder what it means to be “Executive Assistant to the Vice President?” ASK!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Careers Out There

We career counselors love informational interviews.  Not only are they an excellent way to make contacts in your industry, but they also allow for students in the development stages of their job exploration process to learn more about specific professions.  That being said, there are only so much informational interviews a student, especially a shy one, can do.  That’s why I think Careers Out There, which I recently stumbled across, is particularly handy.  A sort of interactive version of O*Net Online, Careers Out There highlights interviews with professionals from a wide variety of industry.  Ever wonder what it takes to be a writer? Hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

What interviews or articles on Careers Out There do you find particularly interesting or useful?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Beginner Interview Tips

As the class of 2011 starts to feel the pressure of the job search process, I’m seeing more of them in my office, eager to review and rehash their interview experiences. One student’s story, reminded me of a very important point of emphasis for any job seeker: it’s not about what the job seeker (you) wants, but what the employer needs. The employer cares a lot less about why a given position appeals to you, will advance your career, or matches your interests, but rather how you will advance the organization.
Here are some tips for novice interviewers:

Obsess Over the Job Description
Read each individual point of the job description and identify the skills and experience you have that will enable you to successfully perform that responsibility or task.

Do Your Research
Identify the skills, strengths, and character traits that you possess which will allow you to contribute to the overall goals and mission of the organization.

Make Your Pitch
Market yourself! By reading articles and the company’s website, determine what the organization is looking for, and then demonstrate that you’ve got it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Can I Do With a Philosophy Major?

I get this, or the same question in reference to other majors, pretty often.  And truthfully, the answer is pretty much always the same –a lot.  Obviously, there are some options pursuing a graduate degree, teaching, or even the ministry, that might be assumed for what one could do with a philosophy degree.  That being said, many philosophy (or anthropology, women’s studies, etc.) majors pursue careers in, amongst other things, law, public service, marketing, consulting, or public relations.  Essentially, the value of your degree is the skills you learn and your ability to market them.  Writing, research, communication, leadership, analysis, and critical thinking skills are all evidence of your ability to perform the duties associated with some of the aforementioned jobs.  As a philosophy major you might write a thesis, collaborate on a project, or engage in frequent in-class debates, which all speak to your ability to succeed in the workplace.   So don’t sell your major short.  Study what you love, build your skill-set, explore a wide-variety of career options, and your possible career paths will not be limited.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Plan B

We have a good number of first-time visitors to our office this time of year, specifically asking the question: "I didn't get the internship (or two) I applied for, what now?"  While these students certainly still have options, it is worth pointing out that when you are applying to your first-choice internship, you should be also applying to some Plan B internships and jobs - and applying to lots of them.  A Plan B position could be something you'd love to do, like to do, or even a position you'd only consider doing under the direst of circumstances.  While you might love to be in New York City for the summer, it a good idea to apply to some jobs near your home as well.  When you applied to college, you probably didn't apply to only one school (early decision aside) and it should be the same case with internships.  Fact of the matter is, it's often hard to tell what a position might really be like until you have the chance to speak with a supervisor, learn more about what the position entails, or do some more research about the organization you'd be working at.  So while you might find your dream internship in February, please, do not wait to hear back before moving forward in the search.  Apply to some Plan B positions and you won't be left scrambling for an internship in May.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Planning Ahead 101

This morning I met with a young woman who impressed me for the first five minutes of our conversation.  This young woman, let's call her Beth, was able to clearly articulate what she hoped to do this summer, after graduation, and was both personable and polite.  Perhaps most impressive, she had already applied for several internships, secured several interviews, and was working on putting together her internship "Plan B" for the summer.

However, when Beth proceeded to ask me about summer funding opportunities through our office - a small part of my career counselor heart died a little.  Now, all applications for summer funding were due last week.  Beth, who might have made an excellent candidate for one of our 30+ $3,000 grants for unpaid internships, had missed the boat.  Don't get left standing on the dock, plan ahead! Oh, and read any e-mail from your career center with the word funding in the subject line.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dreaming of Adventure Jobs

In reality, I'm perfectly content in my current role, but in my dreams (where loans, familial obligations, and the absence of any technical outdoors skills have no bearing on my aspirations) I'm making a living as raft guide or an equestrian instructor at a dude ranch in Wyoming.  If you have these same inklings of wilderness guide glory, but, unlike me, are actually capable of performing the responsibilities that come with the job title, check out the Outdoor Adventure Professional Network. In fact, these type of adventure jobs can be excellent opportunities for employment during the summer, post-graduation, or for professionals looking to shake things up.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll be guiding tourists down the Kicking Horse River in a couple of years.