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Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

2013 August

Diary of an Intern: Self Discovery and Reflection – Part 3

Congratulations to our Diary of an Intern series’ student blog contributors!  This month, they are completing their summer internships.  Their final post is a reflection on self discovery and experience as interns.  Therefore, I am giving them their own space to share what they learned about themselves and the skills developed during their internships.  Read their reflections in a 3-part series – Diary of an Intern:  Self Discovery and Reflection.

Let’s learn what Rachel discovered about herself and the experience in Senator Burr’s office in Washington, D.C.

Rachel LordLooking back on my internship, I could not have asked for a better experience on The Hill this summer. I have met wonderful people who have been supportive and helpful in my personal and professional development. Overall, my time in D.C. has prompted me to realize how capable I am of entering the working world, exceeding expectations, and positively contributing to an office.

After working in two different offices with disparate characteristics, I know I can excel in many professional environments based on positive feedback I have received. I also discovered that I am continually learning from others and from my own curiosity. Education does not end with a diploma, and I have experienced the benefits of keeping up with current events and reading analytical reports in my fields of interest. Listening and observing have also served me well as the small details can aid in making a personal connection, or ensure a long spreadsheet is correct.

On a personal level, I have discovered I can manage working full time while taking classes and engaging in the D.C. community through volunteering. When I graduate in December and enter the working world, I feel prepared to engage in the workplace as well as involve myself in activities that contribute to my energy levels and productive lifestyle. For example, I often met with friends to run after work or to visit one of the many museums filled with American history. Over the past eight months, I have come to know D.C. as home and have enjoyed living in the city filled with people aspiring to make a positive impact on society.

Because I have been in both the private sector and the public sphere, I am now able to compare the two environments. I see how the work differs, how it overlaps, and how the two sectors work together. In my future position after graduation, I will incorporate the skills I have gained and improved into many of my office practices. For example, I will continue to think strategically and anticipate additional information needed by my supervisor.

After eight months of interning, I would offer a few pieces of advice for those looking to have a great work experience. The first would be to master the art of timing. Each person has different priorities in the office. Recognizing this is important in order to find the right time to ask a question or present work. On the other hand, when a supervisor has an urgent task, it is important to prioritize and act accordingly. The other piece of advice came from a D.C. mentor who said to be open and honest in personal and professional capacities. This applies not only to being open when considering the ideas of others, but also being open to sharing your ideas and having a dialogue about them.

Knowing I have communicated and worked well with others, solved problems, and analyzed situations, I will enter my future job position with confidence and eagerness to effectively contribute to my colleagues and organization. I will continue to use the skills I have built and work to improve upon them by asking for feedback from supervisors and mentors.

Thanks for reading!

~Rachel Lord, ’13 – Politics and International Affairs Major and History and Entrepreneurship Minors

Intern at the office of Senator Richard Burr

New Year: New You

Welcome new and returning students!  Happy New Year!  It’s the beginning of a new academic year – an opportunity to start fresh.  You haven’t written a paper, taken a quiz or test (maybe), or received a grade yet.  Start by setting intention for this semester and year.  Begin with the end in mind.  Learn from your past mistakes and missed opportunities.  Make some resolutions…err…set some SMART goals.  Then, reflect on your set intentions and goals.  To help set the course for a New Year – New You, follow these three simple steps:

1.      Be Intentional.  First, leave the past in the past.  Move forward.  Think about what you will do differently as a result of past failures.  You registered for classes to fulfill divisional / major requirements or for general interest.  You joined a club or group.  Why?  What do you intend to learn and gain from these courses and experiences?  What do you hope to gain from them?  How are you going to be intentional in your skill development and selection of courses, activities, and career path?  Consider answering these questions before getting too deep into the semester.  You will have a better grasp of what you intend to learn, develop, and accomplish.

2.      Write SMART Goals.  They will be your guide to the results you want by the end of the year.  If a year is too overwhelming to plan, chunk it into semesters.  Here are a few questions to consider before developing your SMART goals:  What do you want to accomplish in the fall semester and spring semester?  What do you want to accomplish by end of the year?  When you look back at the end of the semester (fall and spring) and year, what do you want to be able to say that you have done or learned?  Are there new skills you would like to develop, such as giving public presentations or business writing?  I recommend setting 2-3 goals per semester and 1-2 goals for the year.  Consider focusing on areas such as academic coursework – the knowledge and skills you want to learn, extracurricular activities – the skills you want to develop and the leadership position you want to attain, and personal/career goals – the internship or job you want this summer.  Need help writing goals?  Use the SMART goal worksheet as a guide.  Share these goals with an advisor, counselor, or mentor so that s/he can help you develop a plan for achieving them.

3.      Reflect.  At the end of each semester, spend some time reflecting on your courses, extracurricular activities, and experiences.  Reflect upon your intention and goals set for these areas.  To help guide the reflection process, print or download the reflection exercise worksheet.  Upon completion of the reflection exercise, you may need to adjust your semester and/or annual goals based on the information gathered about yourself, courses, and activities.  If needed, repeat step two and revise your goals.  Goals do not have to be static.  They can be modified as plans change.

Best wishes on a successful and productive  semester and year!

TIP: Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

Don’t miss the opportunity to highlight the skills you developed during your summer internship! Before you get too far removed from your internship, you’ll want to update your resume by highlighting the new skills developed and projects accomplished during the experience. A resume plays an important role in the hiring process for internships and jobs.  Often, the resume is the first impression an employer receives on you.  So, you want to market your professional brand and skills to potential employers.  If you kept a journal, review it for specific skills and tasks completed on key projects.  It will help guide what you want emphasize on your resume.  Remember, you want to highlight skills relevant to the internship or job to which you are applying.  A position’s job description is another great reference when updating your resume.  Review the job description for sought-after skills and highlight the skills you possess on your resume.  It is not uncommon to have a few different resumes to match each position you wish to receive an interview.  You want to be the qualified person employers are searching for in a candidate.

Similar to your resume, your LinkedIn profile can be a first impression of you. Did you know that when you Google your name your LinkedIn profile is one of the top ten links found on you?  Use your resume to update your LinkedIn profile with the skills and projects obtained during your internship.  This will ensure your profile matches your resume.  LinkedIn is not only your online resume, but a resource for connecting and networking with alumni and employers.  If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, learn more by viewing the video below.

For assistance, come by the Office of Personal and Career Development during resume review hours to receive tips and advice on your resume and LinkedIn profile.  Review hours are: Monday through Thursday 1 – 4 p.m.  Exceptions: extended hours 1 – 5 p.m. on September 17; and no reviews on September 2 and November 27-28. The last day of reviews for the semester will be December 5.

Visit the Career Development website for additional information and tips on resumes and LinkedIn.

Diary of an Intern: Self Discovery and Reflection – Part 2

Congratulations to our Diary of an Intern series’ student blog contributors!  This month, they are completing their summer internships.  Their final post is a reflection on self discovery and experience as interns.  Therefore, I am giving them their own space to share what they learned about themselves and the skills developed during their internships.  Read their reflections in a 3-part series – Diary of an Intern:  Self Discovery and Reflection.

Let’s learn what Zach discovered about himself and the experience at Condé Nast in New York City.

Zach GarbisoLooking back on my first week of my internship in New York City, I have noticed that a lot of things have changed.  I have grown as a result of my summer and I have learned a lot about myself during the entire process.  I learned that I am able to work on a wide variety of projects simultaneously and still manage to get them finished in a timely fashion.  Working in Editorial, I frequently had to prioritize assignments (which transcription needs to be turned in before which clip file etc.).  While working with the editors at Details, one of the most important things I realized was that while they all managed to get to the same place, they all went about it a different way.  Being a rising senior contemplating a career in a field that is not my major, it was really amazing for me to see that if you set your mind to doing something, it doesn’t matter what you studied, just that you are driven.

I really enjoyed working for Details magazine.  One of the most interesting things that I did as an Editorial Intern was compiling research about the various stories Details published.  I know that researching might sound tedious, but I was researching some of the most interesting subject matter out there: celebrities.  Therefore, compiling every article I found on x celebrity was a very entertaining process.  

Condé Nast provided an Intern Speaker Series and one of the talks that I found most helpful was the discussion focused on asking for feedback.  The speakers were members of the Human Resources Team and one of the many things that I took from that talk was that no matter where you are in your career (an intern, assistant, or even an executive) you can, and should ask the people around you for feedback.  There are always people around you that can discuss what you’re doing well and what you could potentially improve.

Overall, I think that living in New York City and working with a company like Condé Nast really provided me with a lot of experience with working in the real world and has really prepared me for the process of finding a job at the end of this coming year.  During my summer, I’m lucky to have met a lot of really incredible and impressive people.

~ Zach Garbiso, ‘14 – Psychology major and English and Spanish minors

Editorial Intern at Details magazine in NYC

Diary of an Intern: Self Discovery and Reflection – Part 1

Congratulations to our Diary of an Intern series’ student blog contributors!  This month, they are completing their summer internships.  Their final post is a reflection on self discovery and experience as interns.  Therefore, I am giving them their own space to share what they learned about themselves and the skills developed during their internships.  Read their reflections in a 3-part series – Diary of an Intern:  Self Discovery and Reflection.

Let’s learn what Laura discovered about herself and the experience at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

LauraIt’s hard to believe that my summer internship has been completed! It was a packed 8 weeks in which I learned so much about myself, both from living alone in Atlanta and from my work experience at the High Museum of Art. One major thing I learned is that Atlanta is not a city in which I could see myself living. I think I am more of a mid-sized city kind of person, or a big city that is walkable with great public transportation. I love the High so much, but I am not a fan of Atlanta. This realization has caused me to see that compromise will definitely be something I face when looking for a job post-Wake. I knew this in my head, but actually experiencing it is a different story, as it always seems to be.

However, I think the most important thing I have learned about myself is my desire to work in the art museum field. I have had two art museum internships now, and each one has affirmed my passion for art and sharing it with the community. I definitely want to pursue a career in art museums or a related field. It was nice to reaffirm this after completing my second internship at a larger museum.

I loved my internship because I got to have some incredible experiences with art and see how the community reacts to art. I gained so much valuable day-to-day experience working in a cubicle in a large office building in a big city. I feel like I am being really general in saying what I have learned because it is hard for me to write out everything and sort through it all- we would be here for days! I loved this internship because of all the amazing experience that I have gained and skills I have honed. I know that living on my own for 2 months in a strange city was worth it for all the contacts, knowledge, and experience I have gained. I am going to look for similar internships in the future, but perhaps ones that are paid (even though those are few and far between in the art museum world) and look for one in a city in which I know someone. Coming home to a place where I am not surrounded by people I love, either at home or at Wake, is really tough. I know that in the future I need to live with people who I am excited to go home to.

I learned how to work with different kinds of people and different departments across the museum. I learned how to suggest new projects that I want to do in order to make my work suit me more. I learned the importance of taking notebooks to meetings and meeting frequently with my supervisor to ensure that I am completing the correct tasks. Overall, I gained so much knowledge of the workings of a major art museum and the roles of each different department. I even made a list of all the tasks that I completed at the High for future reference and to jog my memory before interviews, etc.

Laura using our “Go Girl” app where you dress up like Girl with a Pearl Earring, the star of our blockbuster exhibition “Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis”.

Laura using the “Go Girl” app where you dress up like Girl with a Pearl Earring, the star of our blockbuster exhibition “Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis”.

My advice for someone starting out an internship search is to start applying very early. It is almost like a part-time job for a few months, so be prepared. Notify professors whom you will need recommendations from as far in advance as possible. Be sure to get each application proofread before you send it out. Treat your internship application process like your college application process: apply to a few internships that you know you will get (safety internships), a few you have a reasonable chance of getting, and a few that are reach internships (more for practice). It is a long and grueling process, especially when you are applying for about 15 internships like I did, but it was worth it in the end. I was able to pick my top choice since I applied to so many, which made the hard work worth it. But really the experience of the internship itself made all those applications, revisions, and emails worth it.

It has been such a wonderful summer, and I am so thankful to the High Museum of Art for all the amazing experiences I have had. I am planning on seeking out another internship at a different art museum to gain even more experience and knowledge as to how other museums operate. I am excited for the future, and so thankful for this amazing summer!

~Laura Jurotich, ‘15 – History and Art History major

Marketing and Public Relations Intern at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta


Diary of an Intern: Rachel’s Projects / The People / The Skills

Rachel LordIn my internship, I am exposed to a variety of different tasks and people with whom I work. When I come into the office in the morning, I work on daily press clips and send them to the press department for circulation. I work with the tour coordinator when I am scheduled to lead constituents on tours of the Capitol Building. As well as staff in the main office, I work with Legislative Correspondents and Legislative Assistants when writing letters to constituents and researching pertinent legislation.

As I improve my skills in the office, I notice two different types of skill sets that I use: research and writing skills, as well as interpersonal skills.

When writing constituent letters, I research pieces of legislation and answer pertinent questions. I then draft a letter which needs to be clear and concise so the recipient can understand a particular policy and how it affects him or her. I not only draft letters, but I produce memos with information from Senate hearings. With this task I prioritize the information and present it in an organized manner so the legislative assistant can quickly absorb the material.

When interacting with constituents, I use my interpersonal skills to connect with them and help them in any way I can. Many North Carolinians who call the office have a concern or a question that I can address or answer. Depending on policy deliberations in the Senate, constituents will call when they are emotional or upset. For those days, I have responded to a fast paced and highly stressful environment. I use my communication skills to understand their perspective, calm them down, and explain Senator Burr’s position on the issue.

I also use my interpersonal skills outside of the office when giving tours of the Capitol Building. I meet with constituents and make a personal connection so their tour is engaging and interesting. If someone has a particular interest, such as the Civil War, I include more detail and relate the information to their experience.

While we are in recess, I am using my initiative to find projects. Recess is known for being slow, but it is only a slow day if I allow it. I am asking for research assignments from those in the office and using the Congressional Research Service to inform myself on current legislative issues. Even on my day off, I have met D.C. professionals for informational interviews and worked on my independent study so I can graduate in December.

Until next time,

~Rachel Lord, ’13 – Politics and International Affairs Major and History and Entrepreneurship Minors

Intern at the office of Senator Richard Burr

TIP: Telling Your Story: Market Your Skills

Carolyn CouchOPCD Expert Contributor – Carolyn Couch, Associate Director of Career Education and Counseling

Learn how to easily communicate your value to interviewers, using work, academic, and personal examples.

Watch the video to learn more about how to articulate your internship experience in an interview.

Stumped about how to communicate your potential value to an interviewer?  A key to interviewing effectively is articulating how your skills relate to the specific job, and sharing stories of times you’ve demonstrated them.  You see, to a potential employer, the best evidence of how you will perform on their job is how you’ve performed in the past.   Providing specific examples will help them “see” you in their job and can sell them on hiring YOU.  Start by reviewing the job/internship description, noting the skills and abilities required.  Then, use the STAR formula for creating and telling your stories:

S or T : Situation or task you faced

A: Action(s) you took

R: Positive results of your actions (quantify when possible here)

Prepare for the interview by telling your stories to friends, OPCD counselors, and anyone else that will listen, until you feel comfortable sharing them in everyday conversation.  Give enough detail so that your listeners fully comprehend the circumstances you were in, but limit your story to three minutes or less.  Ask for feedback on your content and delivery, as well as the abilities evident in your story.   I promise, you’ll be amazed at all the skills others see.

Make your preparation for future interviews easier, by beginning a STAR journal to record your experiences and important projects.

TIP: Completed the Internship! Now What?

Congratulations!  You completed your summer internship working in an industry you selected as a potential career path.  You now have experience in a field that you can speak about during interviews.  Now what?

The experience you gained this summer is too important to dismiss.  So, I don’t want you to simply check the internship box and move on…Too frequently, we rush to complete a task without giving it much thought.  It is easy to return to school and forget about your internship experience.  You will miss a vital step in the learning process of your experience – Reflection.  What do I mean by reflection?  Reflection is making time to ask questions about the experience and discovering how you will move forward as a result.  I recommend you review your goals, scan your journal for projects and tasks completed, reflect on the people you met, and areas of strength and improvement.   This review will help you develop yourself as well as capture stories you can use for future internship and job interviews.

Schedule time now before temptation surrounds you to put it off for another day.  Reflection will not be a priority once you set foot on campus.  To help guide the reflection process, use the following questions:

1)  As a result of this internship, I learned the following about myself:

2)  What is the most important thing I learned about myself?

3)  What did I like and/or not like about the internship?  Therefore, I’m going to…

4)  What are 2-3 things I consider my strengths?  How am I going to further develop my strengths?

5)  What skills did I develop?  How can I apply these skills to academic coursework, extracurricular activities, future internships and post-grad life?

6)  What new skills, knowledge, and abilities did you learn?  How can I apply these new skills, knowledge, and abilities to academic coursework, extracurricular activities, future internships and post-grad life?

7)  What is an area of improvement?  How do I plan to develop this area?

8)  What are 2-3 things am I interested in learning more about in the industry?  How am I going to seek this information?

Get started by printing or downloading the internship reflection worksheet.  Upon completion of the reflection exercise, you may need to adjust your internship and job search and career goals based on the information gathered about yourself and the experience.  For additional information on reflecting on your internship, visit the career development website.  If you need help, schedule a meeting with a career counselor to discuss how to apply your new knowledge in your career search.

Visit the Professional Confessional next week for a video on how to develop and tell your story to market your skills in internship and job interviews.