Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

2014 June

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

Let’s find out what Maeghan has been doing the last few weeks.

Maeghan LivingstonHello everyone!

The beautiful campus of Lipscomb University where I work.

The beautiful campus of Lipscomb University.

One of the most valuable things that I have learned this summer is how small things can have a great impact. As an operations coordinator with Teach for America, I do not get to directly work with students; however I am indirectly having a big impact on their lives. One of the projects that falls under my job description is breakfast logistics and procedures. I have the privilege of waking up at 5 am each weekday and greeting corps members for breakfast at 6:00 am before they depart for their school sites at 7:00 am. My coworker and I have sought out ways to make the corps member’s dining experience more dynamic and help to get their days off to a good start. We put out encouraging quotes on the tables and have recently created music themed mornings. These themes include Motown Monday, Throwback Thursdays and the recent addition of Beyonce Fridays. The response to these small implementations has been amazing! You would be surprised to see how many corps members are dancing through the lines at 6:30 in the morning. The energy from week one has changed as the corps members confront new challenges in their classrooms each week.  However I know that we have a positive influence on the mindset our teachers have when they enter the classroom; this makes a world of difference. 

Nashville is known as the Athens of the South, so it was only appropriate to visit The Parthenon.

Nashville is known as the Athens of the South, so it was only appropriate to visit The Parthenon.

The Nashville TFA institute is very intentional about supporting the professional development of all parties involved, corps members and staff alike. I have participated in cultural competency and professional development sessions, as well as one-on-one reviews with my director who works closely with me. These have been great spaces for me to evaluate my strengths and areas of challenges, and receive insight from my boss. My operations director thinks that I am great at organizing, planning and executing and that I am efficient at getting work done ahead of time with little instruction. She also has observed a strength in relationship building and networking. One area that she and I both identify as an area of growth is tailoring my approach of communication to the audience I am interacting with depending on their age or the environment, etc. The staff recently completed the true colors personality survey and discussed how their colors play out in our work setting. Using this information, my director and I also discussed how I might grow in how I communicate with my coworkers knowing my own working style and the style of those I work with. For those of you who are familiar with the test, I am blue shaded with gold. 🙂

Maeghan with coworkers

The Residential Operations team!

One very memorable and valuable part of my summer has been developing a team culture that is positive, enthused and focused. My fellow interns and I all understand our roles but are not hesitant to assist one another. We are also very affirming of one another’s contributions and talents. These small interactions are things that I will try to incorporate in my leadership approaches on campus during the upcoming school year. Overall, Nashville has been treating me well and I am learning so much. Only two weeks left!

Maeghan Livingston ’15 – Sociology major

Diary of an Intern: Introducing a New Student Contributor

I am excited to introduce a new Diary of an Intern student contributor joining us the latter half of the summer! Follow her on her journey of discovering the world of work, skill development, and the lessons learned in the process.

Let’s discover who she is, where she will be interning, why, and what she hopes to gain from the experience.

Ciao!

My name is Lauren Friezo and I am a rising senior from Montclair, New Jersey. I am an English major, with double-minors in Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

The view from my classroom in Rome. It was hard to concentrate with the Pantheon right outside the window.

The view from my classroom in Rome. It was hard to concentrate with the Pantheon right outside the window.

My first post is a bit delayed, as I’ve spent the past month studying travel-writing in Rome, Italy, with the Wake Forest Department of Journalism. There, I was able to combine a few of my favorite things — food, exploring a new city and of course, writing!

I had this delicious cacio e pepe pasta at Roscioli in Rome. I can’t wait to see what my internship will have me eating when I get back to NYC!

I had this delicious cacio e pepe pasta at Roscioli in Rome. I can’t wait to see what my internship will have me eating when I get back to NYC!

When I head back to New Jersey at the end of June, I’ll be interning with Gael Greene, the restaurant critic and novelist. After her stint as New York Magazine’s restaurant critic for over 40 years, Ms. Greene is now a freelance writer who runs her brand — InsatiableCritic.com — out of a New York City apartment. This will be my second summer working with her. Last summer, my intern responsibilities involved making restaurant and travel reservations, editing and proofreading weekly articles and uploading content and photography to Ms. Greene’s website. I was also able to attend amazing foodie events — like the 2013 Rumble at the Rock, hosted by Citymeals-on-Wheels, where I got to sample foie gras with strawberries prepared by Daniel Boulud.

This summer, I’ll have more of an opportunity to get out of the office and do some reporting around New York City. My assignments may lead me to amazing (and delicious) new discoveries. I hope that this internship will help sharpen my reporting and networking skills. Working with Ms. Greene is a great way to see what the life of a freelance writer really is like. I’m not exactly sure what I want to do once I graduate, but I know it’ll involve writing and sharing my ideas and experiences.

I can’t wait to share it all with you!

Lauren Friezo, ‘15 – English major

TIP: Building a Network at Work

You’re meeting new people and developing relationships with your colleagues. This group is an important one to nurture during your summer job or internship. You may be asking…What is the best way to build a network at work? How do I foster those relationships?

Here is what a few of our employers say:

 

CSX logo

Lauren Dealexandris, Director of Intermodal Finance

Staying in touch with people through various means, and getting back to them quickly when they reach out to you is very important in building and maintaining relationships. Open communication and challenging is much easier when you have a previously established relationship, which makes advancing business issues and solutions more effective.

 

Deloitte logo

Liz Hannah, Carolinas Campus Recruiter

Building your network is imperative and will open many doors for you down the road! From the start of the recruiting process you will have the opportunity to meet individuals of all levels through recruiting functions, training/orientation, engagement team assignments, the counselor/mentor program, intern events, business resource groups and community service activities. It is imperative that you get to know and keep in touch with these people. Everyone within our firm, from our Global CEO down, is extremely approachable and desires to expand their network as well by getting to know you.

 

United_technologies_logo

Meghan Hayden, HR Functional Development Manager

During an internship you will have only a few months to establish connections, so you will need to act fast!

  • Start off strong.  Show up prepared to work on your first day.  Know how the company has been making news over the last few weeks and months.  Bring a notepad and have some questions prepared.
  • Get some quick wins.  Make your first few tasks count by showing your manager that you are dedicated to doing high-quality work.  Turn in “Completed Staff Work,” a product that is in final draft, proof-read, formatted to print, and ready to be forwarded to the customer without additional edits from your boss.  This should get their attention.
  • Build a strong reputation.  Deliver on every commitment, or at least proactively communicate a roadblock.  Become someone your team can count on. 
  • Ask for support.  Talk with your manager, Human Resources manager, or team members about your career aspirations.  Ask if they will support you as a candidate for a full-time position at the company, or if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation.  Follow up with a thank you e-mail in a timely fashion.

Diary of an Intern: Charles’ Projects / The People / The Skills

Let’s find out what Charles has been doing the last few weeks.

Just outside RGS-HK's office

Just outside RGS-HK’s office

Interning for the Royal Geographical Society – Hong Kong (RGS-HK) has already afforded me many incredible experiences.  I have been privileged to interact with fascinating individuals and to work on substantive projects. 

 

School outreach event featuring Nick Danziger

School outreach event featuring Nick Danziger

Recently, the RGS-HK Events Officer has been bringing me to shadow her at various school outreach programs during the day.  RGS-HK organized one such event, for example, that featured one of the world’s most renowned photojournalists, Nick Danziger, who described his work in disadvantaged communities across the globe as well as his work with world leaders, such as George W. Bush, the Queen of England, and the Dalai Lama.  For evening lectures, I continue to assist with set up, take down, ticket sales, and other tasks associated with the events.  While in the office, my responsibilities tend to be writing-related, including the drafting, editing, and condensing of various documents.  These documents range from a sponsorship contract renewal to proof-reading emails before they are sent to board members.  The RGS-HK Director also has invited me to sit in on many of his meetings, where I have watched him form relationships with potential corporate sponsors and discuss internal affairs with board members. 

 

Walking to work

Walking to work

Beyond the aforementioned responsibilities, my duties also extend to whatever odd jobs present themselves.  Among these tasks have been installing anti-virus software on the office computers, going to the bank to review account details, and several others.  Although I am only about halfway through my internship, I have already had a broad range of valuable experiences at RGS-HK. 

 

Charles Thomas ’16 – Politics and International Affairs major, Communication and Entrepreneurship double minor 

 

TIP: Building Relationships

OPCD Expert Contributor – Allison McWilliams, Director of the Mentoring Resource Center & Alumni Personal and Professional Development

One of the most important outcomes of your summer job or internship experience is the opportunity that it presents to build effective, positive personal and professional relationships. This is the beginning of your network, the group of people who will mentor you, provide resources and contacts, write letters of reference for you, guide you and give you feedback. Clearly, this is a very important group of people! However, building this network is sometimes easier said than done. The people you will be working with will be incredibly busy, and may not seem to have time to devote to your growth and development. So how then do you build a relationship with them?

Watch the video to find the answer.

To learn more, read further for details on building personal and professional relationships.

First, it starts with you. And, it starts with the work. You may feel that you are the lowest rung on the ladder, but trust me. Good work, and bad work, gets noticed. And good and bad behavior gets noticed. One of the easiest ways for you to build effective relationships with your co-workers and colleagues is to show up, every day, ready to give 150 percent to whatever task is in front of you. When you have downtime, seek out additional responsibilities. Ask others what you can do to help them. A great work ethic builds great relationships.

Second, take the time to focus on your growth and development. Quite frankly, if you aren’t willing to do the work on your own growth, then why should anyone else be bothered to help you? Set a few personal and professional goals for the summer. What are you going to work on between now and August? Once you have these goals and have established some rapport with your colleagues (which means, simply, you’ve taken the time to get to know them and feel comfortable around them), seek out one of these individuals and ask if you can take them to coffee or lunch to learn more about their career path. As part of this conversation, be prepared to ask for some feedback: what can you do to get better in your job, and what can you do to accomplish your goals?

Third, take ownership of the process. After you ask someone for advice and guidance, be sure to take the steps they have recommended, and then follow-up to let them know the outcome. Say thank you. Take responsibility to learn everything that you can, about your position, about the industry that you are working in, and be reflective about what you are learning.

Building effective relationships is not rocket science, but it does require work, and that work starts and ends with you. The good news is, you have complete control over how hard you are willing to work, which means you have complete control over how you develop your network!

Diary of an Intern: The First Week

Our student interns have experienced their first week at their internships.  They are doing some amazing work and partaking in once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Let’s find out how their week went and view pictures of where they work.  Check out their first week!

I landed in Hong Kong about three weeks ago and my time spent here has been nothing short of amazing thus far. Realizing that I would not have a chance to explore the city and its surrounding islands after I started my internship, I decided to move in a few weeks early to find my bearings and enjoy my first trip to Asia.

View from Victoria Peak

View from Victoria Peak

The first thing I did, after settling in, was hike Victoria Peak.  The many views from The Peak juxtapose Hong Kong’s metropolis with the vast rainforest it lies within. I also traveled to the nearby Lamma Island, where I went on a hike and ventured through the local fishing markets. On another excursion, I saw the famous Buddha statue on Lantau Island. 

Lantau Island from the top of the Buddha

Lantau Island from the top of the Buddha

But seeing as I am supposed to blog about my internship, I had better switch gears. I have now been an intern for the Royal Geographical Society in Hong Kong (RGS-HK) for just over a week. Every morning, I walk to the office using what is commonly referred to as “the escalator,” the world’s longest covered outdoor escalator system. RGS-HK has a broad range of functions and because only four of us are full-time, I have had the opportunity to work on several interesting projects. For one such project, I am putting together a report to The North Face in order to request a sponsorship contract renewal. One of RGS-HK’s main functions is to host, usually twice each week, expert guest lecturers who speak on a wide breadth of geographically related topics. In another project, I summarized 58 of these guest lectures for an annual publication that is distributed by RGS-HK to nearly 4000 members. The lecture topics were diverse and interesting, ranging from three-time ice climbing world champion Tim Emmett recounting his innumerable record-setting exploits, to well-known author and journalist John Garnout discussing the power dynamics of the current Chinese government. Most of my assignments are writing related and involve drafting, condensing, or editing and my office hours are 10:30am-6:30pm.

Inside the escalator

Inside the escalator

However, my responsibilities extend beyond the office.  At lecture events, I help with set up, take down, ticket sales, and whatever other tasks may come up. On these nights, I usually work until 9:00pm, but I am also allowed to attend the lectures.

Drinks and dinner with Jeff Widener

Drinks and dinner with Jeff Widener

This past Thursday, RGS-HK hosted Jeff Widener, the photographer who captured the iconic “Tank Man” image at Tiananmen Square, for the 25th anniversary of his photograph. After the lecture, the RGS-HK Director invited me to join him, Mr. Widener, and journalist Peter Eng for drinks and dinner at The China Club. Particularly as a Politics and International Affairs major, it was an unbelievable experience to meet someone who had such a profound and lasting impact on shaping the international perception of the Chinese government. The opportunities I have had, thus far, have been incredible. I am grateful to spend my summer in Hong Kong with the Royal Geographical Society and I am excited to learn what the coming weeks hold.

Charles Thomas ’16 –Politics and International Affairs major, Communication and Entrepreneurship double minor

 

Laura Jurotich

Hadwen House
Hadwen House

My first week on Nantucket island has been extremely eventful! After three flights I landed on Nantucket last Friday and moved into the historic Hadwen House built in 1845 on Main Street in the middle of town with the six other Nantucket Historical Association interns. Living in a 169 year old house definitely has its quirks, but it has been a wonderful experience. The other interns and I spent the first weekend exploring and getting acclimated to life 30 miles out to sea in the Atlantic Ocean.

Whaling Museum

Whaling Museum

We started work on Monday with a full week of orientation activities ranging from attending all the programs in the Flagship Whaling Museum on whale hunting, Nantucket history, and the sinking of the Essex whale ship (which inspired the ending of Moby Dick)  to visiting many of the NHA’s historic properties around the island including the Oldest House from 1686 to the oldest operating windmill in America. We learned how Nantucket was the whaling capitol of the world until the late 19th century, and it has over 800 pre-Civil war buildings still standing. Although it is small in size, Nantucket is overflowing with rich history and is one of America’s most treasured early settlements. I have definitely been soaking up the history and unique culture!

Oldest Windmill

Oldest Windmill

Laura holding a harpoon

Laura holding a harpoon.

I am a Public Programs intern, so I help with all the non-regular NHA programming like lectures, concerts, etc. We all have our own special projects that we will complete this summer in addition to our other duties, which I should find out in the next few days. This upcoming week will be fun and busy with visits to other museums on the island, a few lectures, and an ice cream social with other nonprofit interns on Nantucket. Everyone at the NHA and on the island has been so incredibly welcoming; I already feel at home here. I am so excited to spend the summer exploring the beautiful island and sharing Nantucket’s rich history.

Laura Jurotich ’15 – History and Art History double major

 

Maeghan LivingstonGreetings to you all once more!

Thank you for taking time to share in my summer experience with Teach for America (TFA). My first week here has been quite eventful! I have become well acquainted with a dedicated staff and several passionate alums of the program who share my heart for education reform. I have also begun to develop relationships with many of the corps members who are participating in TFA’s first regional Institute in Nashville TN.

Maeghan at work

Maeghan at work

One thing that I think has already distinguished this Institute from other centralized and regional TFA institutes is their dedication to rigorously challenging corps members to internalize topics related to race, power and privilege. There are diversity sessions with Dr. Donna Ford, a well-known professional in areas of race and education. In addition there are small group spaces for corps members to debrief these talks and hash out some of their thoughts and feelings towards the content presented. I believe that this methodology has great potential to produce effective teachers because the corps members are being pushed to internalize so much of what they may know on a surface level about how race and education interact The concept of cultural competency resonates with me personally because I have been able to learn much more from teachers who I can connect with; these teachers are able to resonate with my experience as a black female which deepens our relationship and my sometimes receptiveness. I have had a very unique educational experience, seeing as my public high school was predominantly black and my collegiate community is predominantly white. Whether one recognizes it or not, the presentation and curriculum of most of my educational experience was not created with me, a black student from a working middle class family, in mind. I am still a little disappointed that I personally have only had two black professors during my time at Wake Forest. When a teacher walks into a classroom, regardless of their race or ethnicity, students need to be able to trust that the individual in front of them is genuine in their approach and not only there for self -interest with a “savior mentality”.  He or she must also understand the impact and depth that their role will have in the future of their students. In order to accomplish both of these tasks, it is important to understand where the students are coming from and how to best connect with them; also important is the understanding that as a white teacher, their perspective and experience is starkly different from the way that minority students will experience the world.

I chose to write an entire post on this topic because it has been insightful for me to participate in their diversity training sessions. As the corps members are grappling with the information, I am able to support them and challenge them because I have a connection to both worlds, privileged and underprivileged. Surprisingly, I enjoy facilitating these often difficult and emotionally charged conversations. It terms of my professional growth, these interactions have sparked an interest in becoming an educator in areas of diversity. I know this is a mouth full but by no means does it capture all that I am learning and I expect that this is only the tip of the ice berg. Thank you for reading!

Maeghan Livingston ’15 – Sociology major

TIP: No Syllabus; No Grade

OPCD Expert Contributor – Patrick Sullivan, Associate Director of Career Education and Counseling

One of the biggest challenges about starting your internship is the ambiguity around what you are supposed to do. In college, you pick your courses well in advance, your professors provide a syllabus at the start of class and you know what you need to study to get a good grade on a test. If you are doing well at Wake Forest, you have probably figured out how to make this system work for you.

Your internship might come with a description of your responsibilities, but it doesn’t have a syllabus, there won’t be tests, and you won’t get a grade. How should you figure out what you need to do?

Watch the video highlighting suggestions for receiving feedback during your internship.

To learn more, read further for tips to help you get the feedback you need to succeed.

  • Ask for feedback. Because there isn’t a syllabus or a test in place, take it upon yourself to ask for feedback. Early on, ask for feedback from your peers. “What does the manager expect?”, “Is this the best way to prepare a presentation for the team?” are good questions for your peers. Once you have a basic understanding of your workplace and you have begun producing work that is of value to the organization, ask your manager for feedback. The answers to questions like, “How am I doing on this project?”, “Am I meeting your expectations on this project?”, or “Would you be willing to share your thoughts on what makes an outstanding intern/new hire?” can give you the direction you need to perform well.
  • Schedule informal interactions. If your workplace doesn’t have a formal review process in place (and let’s be honest, many organizations aren’t going to do formal reviews of their interns), make it a point to interact with your peers and your manager outside the workplace. Take someone to lunch and get their feedback. Take your manager out for a cup of coffee and ask for her input.
  • Try the formal approach. Here in the OPCD, we’ve designed an evaluation form designed to help you get the feedback you need. If you want more concrete information about your experience and the skills you developed, ask your supervisor to fill out the evaluation form at the end of your internship. Reflect on the feedback you receive and pursue opportunities to get better. And hey, although the form suggests that you seek input shortly before the end of your internship, it can be used at any time.
  • Act on feedback. This one’s important. If you get feedback from your peers or manager that suggests that you need to change something, you have to make that change. And let people know you are making that change. Telling your manager, “That idea you suggested? I tried it and you were right – it makes me much more efficient” is a great way to show that you are open to constructive criticism and able to grow personally and professionally.

So while there aren’t going to be tests or grades like you’ve had in college, you CAN still get feedback by purposefully interacting with your colleagues. What’s the result? The feedback you get will give you a better sense of your strengths and weaknesses. You can seek out training to develop skills that need improvement. You can build on your strengths to become a critical part of the team.

Just as important, though, is that you are developing relationships with colleagues that will be able to help you in the future. They can offer advice, feedback, and suggestions when you are ready to take your next step and they can be your biggest supporters as you get your full-time career started. Who knows – if things go well, they might be the people that you get your career started with!

TIP: The World of Work: Understanding Company Culture

You’ve landed the internship, set a budget, and created 2-3 SMART goals. Soon, you’ll be entering the world of work. The world of work has a different culture than your college campus. How do you navigate the world of work and understand its culture?

Here is what a few of our employers say:

 

CSX logo

Lauren Dealexandris, Director of Intermodal Finance

Observe others’ behaviors, talk to supervisors and peers what the cultural norms are, and ask questions when something doesn’t make sense. It is better to ask a trusted source about culture than accidentally make a mistake or wrong impression!

 

Deloitte logo

Liz Hannah, Carolinas Campus Recruiter

The best way to understand our company culture is by looking to our experienced employees. This is particularly important as company culture varies greatly among our clients and the engagement teams assigned to those clients. As a rule of thumb, always try to emulate the dress and conduct of the senior professionals on your engagement teams. Follow their discretion and let them lead by example when it comes to the appropriate level of conservatism within a specific environment. All of our experienced employees are here as a resource for interns and new hires, so if you ever question whether or not certain actions are suitable, just ask.

 

United_technologies_logo

Meghan Hayden, HR Functional Development Manager

Culture is essentially how things are done in your company.  In my experience, most companies don’t have a single culture.  Large organizations like mine have guiding principles which are evident in every office and factory around the world, but each work group faces unique pressures and is comprised of unique personalities, which will influence the local culture. 

If you want to know what behaviors are valued in your company, consider how your manager and teammates conduct themselves, and the competencies or values that are assessed during your performance reviews.  Listen for themes within leadership messages, employee meetings and orientation materials to gain insight. 

Many different types of cultures can be successful, but not every culture will be the right fit for you.  Internships are an excellent opportunity to assess a company and find out if your values and priorities align.  Make the most of this opportunity by asking questions and exploring different teams and departments to find the best fit.

TIP: Preparing for the First Day

You’ve heard the expression; you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Why is that?  The first impression is a lasting impression.  It is vital to make a great first impression; especially as a young professional.  It could mean the difference between receiving lucrative assignments versus menial projects.  You want to be prepared for the first day of your professional experience.

Watch the video highlighting these key questions:  What do I wear?;  What do I bring?; and What can I expect?

To learn more, read further for details on preparing for your first day on the job.

1)      What do I wear?  Business-appropriate dress.  What does this mean?  Well, each industry has dress standards depending upon its culture.  For example, business formal is required for the finance industry, but not necessarily for the art industry.  Sometimes, dress can vary from department to department within an organization depending upon its function.  I recommend you call the office where you will be working to ask about dress standards for employees. If you go in for an in-person interview, pay attention to what people in the office are wearing. And when in doubt, always error on the side of conservative.

2)      What do I bring?  A padfolio and pen.  Keep track of everyone you meet.  They will be impressed you remembered their name and a personal fact about them when you see them again.  Also, write down instructions to assignments, projects, and deadlines.  This will ensure that you are meeting expectations, right from the start, and will also help you to track your assignments and projects as you do them.  Keeping a record of your experiences will be extremely helpful when you are updating your resume and preparing for future interviews.  Also, bring important documents necessary to complete human resources paperwork such as tax information (you will need two forms of identification), insurance, and direct deposit information.

3)      What can I expect?  Typically, your first day will be filled with tours, introductions, completing paperwork, and a meeting with your supervisor.  Remember, when you are introduced to someone, address each person using his/her surname or last name unless that person tells you to use his/her first name.  Always address your superiors by their last names.  Take cues on how to act in the office from your supervisor.  All eyes will be on you…you are the young professional.  They are expecting you to make a mistake.  Surprise them – act as if this is not your first job.  Meeting with your supervisor is the perfect opportunity to ask questions for clarity about your duties, culture, and expectations.

Make a positive lasting impression on your first day!