Career Resources

Friday, June 25, 2010

Interns: What to do after the coffee run

Maybe your internship requires that you get the morning coffee for the team, or maybe it doesn't. If it does, make sure that you perform this task well and with a smile, and remember: fetching coffee for your co-workers IS NOT BENEATH YOU. While I'm on this subject, neither is photocopying, filing or answering the phones. If you can do even these menial tasks with a positive attitude, you'll be viewed as a team player who will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Everything you do during an internship will be closely monitored by your supervisors, partly to determine if you're doing your job well and partly to determine if you would be the type of person they would like to work with on a permanent basis. Remember: an internship is a "summer-long interview" so you need to be on your best behavior at all times. Here are ten sure fire tips for making the most of your summer internship and increase your chances of landing a full-time job offer.

1. Make sure you understand what the company's policy is regarding internet, social media (e.g. Facebook) and cell phone usage.
2. Don't sit at your desk with nothing to do; be proactive in seeking out assignments.
3. Try to find ways you can solve a problem, make an impact or produce measurable accomplishments.
4. Don't be afraid to ask questions; it's better to ask a question than to do something wrong. Employers expect that interns will ask questions.
5. Be friendly to everyone in the office and offer to help people whenever the opportunity presents itself.
6. Conduct informational interviews with employees in the company who are doing the jobs that you would like to do.
7. Don't get involved in office politics or gossip.
8. Ask for an evaluation of your performance/reference at the end of your internship.
9. Update your resume while your internship is fresh in your mind.
10. Connect with your supervisor/co-workers on LinkedIn and stay in touch with them throughout the academic year.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Eight Tips for Boosting Your LinkedIn Profile

Many of you have probably heard of LinkedIn and some of you may have even created a profile there. However, that may have been where your exploration of LinkedIn stopped. Students I meet with are often confused about how to use this powerful professional networking resource. My simplest explanation to them is that LinkedIn is the professional equivalent of Facebook. Although this isn’t entirely accurate, I just want them to grasp the magnitude and popularity of this powerful networking site while also understanding the necessity of using it in their job search. According to a January 2010 study conducted for Microsoft by Cross-Tab Marketing Services, 75% of HR departments are now required to research candidates online so it’s definitely in your best interest to establish a robust LinkedIn profile.
Here are my eight tips that can boost your online presence and personal brand:

1. Establish a comprehensive and thorough profile by copying and pasting sections of your resume into your profile and post your resume.
2. Upload any PowerPoint presentations or projects you have done; establish links to blogs and other websites you may have.
3. Create an interesting headline such as “Marketing Intern at ABC Company” as opposed to “Student at XYZ University.”
4. Invite people into your network such as peers, professors, advisors, supervisors, coaches and mentors.
5. Join groups relating to your career of interest; this will enable you to more easily connect to members in the group, obtain insider information, enter into discussions with them and post questions.
6. Get someone to write a recommendation for you to be posted on LinkedIn.
7. Change your status frequently; by doing this your name will appear often in the LinkedIn update emails and will position you as someone who is actively involved in your industry.
8. Link your book recommendations to Amazon; ideally, they should pertain to your career field.

Okay, so now that you've implemented all of these wonderful tips, what happens next? Do you suddenly have recruiters beating a cyber path to your LinkedIn door? Probably not, although some recruiters are using LinkedIn to find qualified job applicants. However, a LinkedIn profile is now a necessary and required component in your job search and in building your professional online brand. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, and the other candidates do (with all other factors being relatively equal), the candidate with a LinkedIn profile will definitely have the competitive advantage.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recent Grads: Do you need a pep talk?

Last week I had a meeting with a recent grad with whom I've been working for the past two years. When she walked into my office, her facial expression said it all. She was clearly feeling dejected and unmotivated because she hadn't landed a job before graduation. I could certainly understand why she was feeling this way because she is the type of person who, all throughout her life, was able to set goals for herself and readily implement a plan to achieve those goals. Her industrious, ambitious nature had paid off nicely for her...until now. So it was understandable that she was having a difficult time with what she perceived as failure.

However, at the end of our meeting I noticed that her facial expression had changed...she seemed more relaxed and was actually smiling and joking. In our meeting, I had strategized with her to develop new job search options and, more importantly, had reminded her of the many ways she was a superior and competitive job applicant. I was able to boost her morale and her confidence, and she was able to leave my office feeling re-energized about her job search. Just a week later, I received a very upbeat email from her informing me of her networking activity and upcoming interview...she feels positive that something will come out her renewed efforts. And that makes me feel great because my job is to be a supportive coach who cheerleads my students onto success.

So, if you're like my student and haven't landed a job yet, please don't give up...even if you've applied for 50 jobs...or 100 jobs! Maybe you too need a pep talk from a career counselor to motivate you and get you back on track. Most colleges continue to offer career services for recent graduates and alumni, and they're usually not that busy in the summer so they'll have lots of time to devote to you.

Even though you may feel that you're doing everything right in your job search, your career counselor may be able to identify a minor thing that you hadn't even noticed. For example, one of my students came in and said she wasn't getting any interviews. It turned out that she had her New Jersey address on her resume while she was applying for jobs in the Boston area. Other students have told me that they don't move onto second round interviews, and I always suggest that they come in to do a mock interview with me where I can provide constructive feedback on what they can do better. Or other times, I just reassure students that they are doing a great job at interviewing, and this gives them the confidence they need to go in and ace the real interview.

So, don't just sit in your room feeling downhearted. Get out and go visit your school's career counseling office and get the pep talk you need to keep you going! I would recommend going to see them on a weekly basis to keep you on track and to keep you motivated. A job search can be a grueling, emotionally draining process so why not enlist the support of a career counselor who can coach you along the way?