Monday, December 31, 2007

Internship Resolutions for the New Year

As 2008 rapidly approaches, I reflect on the year that is almost over. 2007 was a busy year full of academic and work accomplishments, traveling, and adventures with close friends. I can excitedly say that I achieved all that I had hoped to. Creating a list of resolutions helped me attain all of the goals that I set for myself annually. Here are some internship related goals I set for myself that made me become a successful intern.

Here's to a happy, prosperous, internship filled new year!

Here is a list of resolutions for 2008:
  • Thank bosses, mentors, teachers or individuals who positively influenced you in the workplace or who helped you find an internship
  • Contact your fellow interns, mentors and bosses to say "Happy New Year" and update them on your whereabouts
  • Update your resume (add new internships, personal interests, tailor the colors and font to match that of the employer you are sending it to)
  • Modify your cover letter (mention new accomplishments, make it coincide with the industry and employer you are sending it to)
  • Gather writing examples, recommendation letters, and examples of other accomplishments to send/bring to a potential employer
  • Search for your next internship (check the web, talk to former employers, friends and professors, visit your school's career center)
  • Practice  interviewing with a friend, professor or career counselor
  • Read one blog that corresponds with your personal interests and another that is related to your industry
  • Do something nice for someone everyday!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Keeping In Touch Could Jumpstart Your Career

In response to Stephanie’s post, I cannot stress how important it is
to keep relationships going even after your internship is over.
Throughout an internship you meet so many people who have great
connections. These connections can open up many doors in your
future. For Stephanie, keeping in touch with her bosses and fellow co-
workers allows her the opportunity to still involve herself with her
favorite team. Because of her ability to maintain these rapports,
she is always welcome and valued by the Lightning team.

Although I do not keep in touch with any of my bosses from my first
internship, I have kept in touch with my fellow interns. I bonded with two of my co-interns from a fashion and beauty public relations and advertising firm in New York City.
Since my internship ended, the thought that one day they would help me
with my career never entered my mind.

The girls with whom I worked with were three years older than me. I was an intern working for the first time and they were trying to balance gaining experience before heading out into the real world and looking for jobs. I looked up to them for advice. Throughout my internship our friendship grew. We promised to stay in touch after the internship ended; but, everyone knows that is easier said than done. Although we did not communicate often, our friendship continued. We mostly kept in touch by using Facebook, meaning random wall posts and messages.

A few months ago when I was settling back into school, I received a phone
call from one of the girls. She updated me on her life, told me
about her new job and how much she was enjoying it. The reason she
called, though, was to see if I was interested in working with her! She
said that her company was looking to hire and she thought that I would be
perfect for the job!

Making lasting impressions on the people you work with will pay off, even if it’s hard to imagine during your internship. My friend could have called anyone she knew (like someone she was closer with), but instead she called me. Networking and maintaining relationships are keys to your success. Like Stephanie said, take that extra step right now and email the people who you once worked with. Wishing them a happy holiday is the perfect icebreaker, even if it has been a while!

Now it’s time for me to go write some emails!


Reliving My Hockey Internship

Last night was by far the best night of my winter vacation! I relived my favorite internship from a few years ago--not in the sense that I dreamt about it. I actually had a chance to be an intern again! Two summers ago I had the privilege of working for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the marketing and public relations departments. I have not mentioned it before, but hockey is my passion. Working for a professional team was a dream come true: work was more like play. My days were filled with projects like compiling the statistics section of the media guide and playing cubicle floor hockey. Since my internship, I have made it a point to keep in touch with two of the advisors for whom I worked. When I am home from college, I visit and help out with public relations tasks on game days.

I was reminded of the importance of networking in the press box last night. By building and maintaining relationships with my advisors, They have offered me an open invitation to work for the team when I am home. Additionally, I have been able to meet other contacts. For example, my advisor introduced me to the director of broadcasting for the team. Although he and I are interested in different industries, this individual is connected to local and national media contacts who are in my field. By conversing with him and establishing myself as a public relations professional-in-training, I linked myself to his broader group of contacts. It is so important to establish positive relationships because the business world is small. It may be hard to fathom, but contacts (especially those who you never thought would come in handy) can help you get another internship or job based on their circle of friends and experience. Maintaining your relationships is a small, easy task that you can do to help yourself succeed in the business world.

This time of year is perfect for reconnecting with an old boss. Send him or her a short e-mail with holiday wishes and current information about school, internships and achievements. It would be nice to ask him or her about the company too. It is better to create lasting relationships that will lead to future internship and business opportunities than to limit yourself. Renowned American comedian and actor Milton Berle said it best, "If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Life is too short to put up with a bad internship

In celebration of my new found freedom at the end of a stressful semester, I decided to do a little shopping. While I walked through the mall, I came across the store Barney's. As I approached the entrance, the first thing that popped into my mind was my summer internship.

Like I have said before, last summer I interned with an upscale designer in Manhattan. I was hired as a public relations intern. I was under the impression that I would help the designer with press kits and other related tasks, but did I do any PR? I wish the answer were yes! Unfortunately, I spent most of my days packing up inventory for Barney's and other upscale stores. Every day I came home frustrated. Packing inventory was definitely not in job description that I signed up for. I accept that grunt work is usually an inevitable part of an internship; however, this was much worse than doing menial tasks. Internships are for learning, not doing someone else’s entire job. The designer should have hired a person to fill the shipping position or clarified my duties during the interview.

Looking back, I wish I had listened to the people around me. My friends and family told me to quit and find a fair internship where I would be able to learn about my field of interest, but I didn't listen. I felt uncomfortable with my boss and didn't have the courage to say anything. Let me tell you, regret sucks!

My advice is to speak up if you are an intern who is doing tasks that are not part of the job description you agreed to. Talk to your immediate advisor or someone else who you feel comfortable approaching about your duties. Take initiative and suggest some projects or tasks you would like to do. Anticipate the company’s needs. The purpose of interning is to watch and learn. If you are neither doing anything meaningful nor learning, there is no reason to put up with your unfair internship. Take pride in your work, realize you strengths, and stand up for yourself!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter Break: The Perfect Time to Find a Spring Internship

Winter break has officially started. It is the perfect time to relax, meet up with old friends and catch up on TV shows. Most importantly, it is also a great to consider an internship for the spring. It is not too late to start searching for a great opportunity!

I read an article today from the Financial Post, a Toronto based newspaper that reminded me of my last internship quest. I wanted a public relations position at a small firm in the town I am from, but I could not find any leads. After speaking to some connections in the industry, I decided that it would be best to do some research on my own. I went to the local advertising federation website and created a list of firms that represented clients who I was interested in. Then, I sent emails to the contacts from the federation's website with my cover letter and resume. Surprisingly, I received an overwhelming response. Each firm articulated that they sought interns but were unsure of how to approach them. I ended up selecting an internship at an innovative agency.

My advice is to GO AFTER COMPANIES who interest you even if you are unsure whether or not they have an established program. Small businesses especially are starting to recognize the importance of interns; however, they tend to be more clueless about dispersing the message. Although the allure of a corporate environment and the company name on your resume are appealing, small businesses can offer more individualized attention and tailor the program to your needs. Either way, the point is to make use of your free time to find an internship that suits you.


Below you will find links for a few internship openings and resources:

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Business Week 50 Best Internships

Business Week recently published a list of the top 50 companies to intern at. The main criteria: offering jobs at the end of the summer. Internships are now more meaningful than space fillers for your resume. They are becoming a summer long interview process that could possibly lead to your first job. This means that the pressure is on! Since the line between internships and jobs are blurring, remember to act like a professional (ie steer clear of sex jokes, personal phone calls, texting, online shopping and addictive online games). Although internships tend to be less strict than jobs, do not abuse your freedom. Make sure you give off a good impression, meaning that you enjoy working for the company and that you want to be there. Remember that the goal of an internship is experience and networking opportunities. Even if you cannot picture yourself working at the company in the future, a stellar recommendation from them will help you land a job somewhere else.

This article reminds me of my past internship because I was offered a job at the end of the summer. The president pulled me aside to tell me that my enthusiasm, anticipation of their needs and grammatical precision were what they looked for in employees. Oddly enough, the president was convinced that I would give up finishing my college degree for a public relations position. Although I did not accept the job, I was proud that my hard work was noticeable. 

Good actions don't go unnoticed. Keep up the hard work because it will pay off!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Gift Giving Guide For Interns: A response to Lauren

'Tis the season for giving...but is it appropriate to honor your mentor or boss with a gift? Lauren's post made me consider whether or not it is proper etiquette for an intern to show appreciation for someone in the office. My advice is only to give a gift if the sentiments behind it are sincere. 

For example, at the end of my summer internship I presented my mentor with a small Victoria's Secret travel bag filled with lotion and soap. I decided to give her a gift upon ending my internship because we had a fabulous relationship. Even if she did not have a specific assignment for me to do during the day, she made it a point to include me in all of her daily tasks (including e-mails, conference calls, lunch meetings, briefing sessions, etc). Because she went above and beyond, I felt it was only appropriate to express my gratitude. 

So, you might be wondering whether or not you should give your boss a gift. There is no right or wrong answer. Just remember, a little bit goes a long way: the goal is to show appreciation, not how much you can afford. There is no reason to be extravagant because your boss is most likely not expecting anything. Extravagant gifts can be awkward (ie instead of a spa weekend go with a manicure; instead of an ipod go with a case).

Here's a short gift guide to make your job a little easier:

1. A pen
It will constantly remind the recipient of you. Engraving the intitials of your boss is an added touch.

2. Personalized note pad or stationary
Useful and used often.

I don't understand their purpose but it seems like every employee needs one

Restaurants, spas, can't go wrong.

5. Chocolates and other food items
Think Godiva...this is a good gift for the whole office to share.

6. Mug
Over the past [insert number] weeks you have formed a relationship with your boss. Based on the knowledge you have gained it should become easy to select a mug that appeals to his or her personal interests.

It is a great idea to give your boss a book related to his or her industry or personal interests.

A handwritten note is an easy and inexpensive way to express your gratitude.


Ending An Internship With Etiquette

I have been looking forward to December break for way too long now and I can't believe it has finally arrived (or is about to arrive within the next few days)! This past semester was filled with juggling classes, homework, extra-curricular activities and a social life. Lucky for me (or arguably unlucky), one thing I didn't have to worry about was an internship.

After talking to one of my friends about her internship this semester, I realized that I forgot many of the ups and downs of the whole experience. One thing she reminded me of is the ending of an internship term. Depending upon where you intern, there can be many good things that come out of it at the end. For example, a recommendation letter or a job. But the most exciting thing can sometimes be a gift!

My friend was telling me that she received a Banana Republic gift card as a goodbye/thank you present. It brought me back to my not so fond days at my internship over the summer. After coffee runs, paper filing, client phone calls and more, I got absolutely nothing in return. The thing is, it's not like I worked for a small start-up company: I worked for a designer. A piece of her collection is not a huge thing to ask for! I don't mean to come off as materialistic or seem like I need some sort of award for my hard work. The internship experience can be considered a gift in itself. However, I just think that it is important for an intern to know that he or she was valued by the person/company he or she worked for. Is that too much to ask?


Monday, December 10, 2007

GiGi Girls are here and ready to make some noise about internship experiences

Welcome to the official Gigi girls blog! We are two goal driven, adventurous best friends who spend countless hours dissecting and analyzing our relationships, shopping purchases and offbeat internships. We wouldn't buy a pair of shoes without our best friend's opinion, so why not apply the same idea to internships.

First-hand experience. Networking. Challenges. Freebies. There are qualities that we look for in our internships. We are creating this blog to reveal and critique the intern world as we see it. We think it is important to expose both the positive and negative aspects of being an intern or having an internship so that peers (including us) can find out the real deal.

Having a place to discuss good and bad internships would have helped us predetermine whether our summer internships would have been worthwhile. Lauren's high expectations surrounding an upscale New York City internship did not coincide with her actual experience: coffee runs, errands, and under appreciation. Conversely, Stephanie's low expectations of a position were exceeded: she attended commercial shoots, client lunches and wrote several press releases.

Here's to great internships...