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Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

2015 May

TIP: Budgeting for Your Internship

Now that you landed the internship…You may be asking – How am I going to pay for it?  While some internships are paid (lucky you), others are not.  Even if you are getting paid a salary or a stipend, the cash flow is limited.  Think in terms of college – room and board.  Room – Where am I going to sleep at night?  Board – How am I going to provide for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?  These are the essentials – a roof over your head and a meal or three.  So, it may be time to kick the Starbucks habit.

Whether living at home or on your own, a budget will help you stay on track.  First, you need to know your monthly net income (amount received after taxes), scholarship or stipend amount.  Second, think about your expected monthly expenses.  For example, rent…This is a fixed expense; it doesn’t vary from month to month.  Some expenses fluctuate, like groceries. Third, research areas where you can spend less such as having a roommate to share the cost of rent, and taking your lunch to work as opposed to eating out.  Buying lunch everyday can quickly add up.

In preparation for your internship, create a spending plan and set a budget.  Register to use CashCourse as your resource for learning spending tips and your tool for implementing budget strategies for your summer internship and beyond.  For example, use the budget wizard tool or the worksheet to track your expenses.  Plan the work and work the plan.

Wouldn’t it be great to return to Wake Forest with extra cash in your pocket?!?

TIP: Landed the Internship! Now What?

You have been on the interview. You received and accepted the offer. You are excited to start your internship. But wait, you are going to be a professional now. You have so many questions about how to move from being a student to a professional. We have employer guest contributors answering some of your questions. You may want to think about how you want to make a favorable impression this summer.

Watch this video highlighting what Wake Forest employers say you should do to make a favorable impression during your internship.

To learn more, read further for details on making a favorable impression.


CSX logo

Lauren Dealexandris, Director of Intermodal Finance

The surest way to quickly establish credibility and a strong reputation at our company and within our department is to illustrate both relationship development and critical thinking skills. While showing an interest in learning the business and organization is the primary focus when first getting started, it is also critically important to be responsive, thoughtful, and engaged. Ask questions, meet with people, take ownership and show initiative. Challenging appropriately and solving problems with recommendations supported by facts leave an indelible mark. The basic, underlying ability to analyze information, think both tactically and strategically, and identify opportunities for improvement are characteristics that are difficult to teach yet make a significant difference.


Deloitte logo

Liz Hannah, Carolinas Campus Recruiter

Deloitte hires people with intellect, attention to detail, technical skills and intuitive power required by this profession but what really make an intern or new hire stand out among their peers is their attitude and professionalism.  The individuals who come into Deloitte ready to tackle, and value the experience, of any task,  no matter how menial or trivial it may seem, are the ones who truly impress our leaders.  Displaying a positive, accommodating demeanor and attitude at all times is powerful and definitely does not go unnoticed.


Red Ventures

Jessica Hensen, Recruiter

Successful interns have a strong intellectual curiosity and strive to gain a deep understanding of our business and culture. They have a can-do attitude and are always willing to try new things. Stand out interns don’t just wait for new projects and opportunities to be given to them, but rather they seek out new opportunities on their own. Interns can bring a fresh perspective to business challenges, so they should feel comfortable giving their opinion and speaking up in meetings. Confidence is an important attribute to have as an intern. If there is an area of the company that you’re interested in, schedule time to speak with someone in that area to learn more.


RAI logo (153x75)

Barbara Carter, Director of Talent Acquisition

The most important thing an intern or a new employee can do to stand out is to be “present” in the organization. This means being on time for the job (better to be early) – this is a given. Showing up late for work gives the perception that you really are not interested in the position. Also being present by being engaged in the learning process by being attentive, asking questions and offering your ideas. Often interns spend more time trying to “network” to get the full-time job offer rather than concentrating on doing the job at hand. If you do a good job and add value during your summer internship you are more likely to get the full time job offer.



Meghan Hayden, HR Functional Development Manager

The best career advise I have received is to under-commit and over-deliver.  This careful balance is sometimes called Say:Do Ratio, but it really means keep your promises.  In a busy workplace it is easy to sit in meetings and take on action items (“Sure, I’ll take care of that!”), it is much harder to get all of those things done.  I have to often seen enthusiastic new employees, who are eager to impress their managers, take on tasks they don’t have time for or offer up deadlines that are too aggressive.  During your internship you will need to set realistic objectives, but also stretch yourself and demonstrate your engagement and ability to be a team-player.

Here are some tactics to help you keep the right balance:

Ask for clarifying questions up front.

  • What will a successful finished product look like?
  • When do you need this?
  • Do you want to review a draft at that time, or a final product?
  • Is there anyone I can speak with if I have questions?

Understand your workload.

  • Keep a running list of your assigned tasks and include status and estimated time to complete.
  • Talk with you manager or other stakeholders about priorities; don’t assume you know which items are the most critical.
  • If taking on a new task may interfere with other deliverables, raise the concern. (“This new Project B look like it will take a lot of time, is it ok if I don’t get Project A to you until next week?”)


  • If you are running behind, let someone know.  Not delivering on a deadline is usually much worse than setting a more reasonable schedule in the first place.
  • Ask for help when you get stuck.  Don’t get bogged down in trying to solve an unfamiliar problem by yourself, it is better to ask for five minutes of help than spend hours working an issue by yourself.

Above all else, remember that your job is to learn.  Take on assignments that will help your team and grow your experience, and try to learn from every mistake and challenge.


TIPS (The Intern Professional Series) Starts Again…

Join us for TIPS – The Internship Professional Series this summer. The internship series will provide tips and advice from experts in the Office of Personal and Career Development and employers for success before, during, and after the internship.  Also, the series will help prepare you for the internship, and develop your professional self and the skills most sought-after for life after college.

Real World Reality Bites

Entering the “real world” can be scary, exciting, and filled with expectations.  Perhaps, you are setting high expectations for yourself starting the first day on the job.  Having high expectations are great; however, realize that this is your first job and you will make a mistake or two.  And, it is okay.  Employers do not expect perfection.  Simply do your best and work hard.  Be confident in your Wake Forest preparation for life after college.  To ease some of the stress, the OPCD’s WFU alums share their “rookie mistakes” and advice for starting the new job after college.  

Here are their bites of reality:

Allison McWilliams Allison McWilliams (’95, English and Spanish), Ph.D., Director, Mentoring and Alumni Personal and Professional Development

I think the biggest “rookie mistake” I made was trying to live up to other people’s expectations (or what I perceived were their expectations) for what a “successful” career/life should look like. In doing so, I really wasted a lot of time and energy that I should have been putting towards my own dreams. The only successful life/career/path is the one that fulfills YOU, the one that makes YOU happy, the one that aligns with YOUR goals and values and interests. Don’t waste time trying to live someone else’s life. You only get one life, and you get to create it every single day.


 Patrick SullivanPatrick Sullivan (’93, Politics), Associate Director, Career Education and Coaching

Talk to people. When you start your first job, it’s easy to go to the extremes. Some people feel overwhelmed with all of their new responsibilities, while others quickly assume that they have the the job all figured out in the first few weeks. The reality is that neither situation is accurate. How can you manage your way out of these situations? Talk to the people around you about their experience. Ask your new colleagues how they overcame their first job jitters. If you see someone who is highly successful in your organization, ask them for advice on what made them so successful.


DeeDe Pinckney (’09, Communication), Assistant Director, Marketing and Communication

I wish I’d taken more advantage of being new! My advice is to play the new employee card and meet with everyone and anyone you’d like. Ask members of your organization that you will work with on a day-to-day and those you may not about their careers, company culture, and interests. It’s never too soon to start building solid relationships.


WFU Business Schools - Undergrads 8-29-11Caleigh McElwee (’02, Psychology) MS/EdS, NCC – Associate Director, Undergraduate Market Readiness & Employment

In college, I managed a listserv where I sent colorful emails to market group events. When I got to the workplace and was tasked to send team communications, I knew enough to lose the color and the pictures, but I used ALL CAPS and underline to emphasize an upcoming deadline. I thought I was being helpful; my aim was to make it pop amongst a sea of email communications. However, I received an earful from an older colleague who felt like I was SHOUTING at him. Be mindful that email and text lack tone and can be misinterpreted. Learn about generational differences in the workplace, and ask your colleagues for their communication preferences.


Wake Forest headshots Tuesday, August 5, 2014.  Wake Forest Fellow Zach Garbiso ('14).Zach Garbiso (’14, Psychology), Presidential Fellow in the OPCD

Find what works for you.  As the youngest person in the office, you’ll be given a lot of advice (sometimes conflicting) from a variety of individuals.  While this is a great thing, it can also be extremely overwhelming.  In instances where you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath, say “thank you,” and then think about whether that insight will work for you or not.


Jessica LongJessica Long (’05, Communication), Assistant Director, Career Education and Coaching

It’s okay not to know everything about your job on the first day. Nobody knows everything on the first day. Be patient with yourself as you figure out what your role is. Ask questions if there is something you don’t know or something you don’t understand. Talk to the people around you and build relationships with your coworkers. Also, remember that your first job out of college is probably not going to be your forever job. Think of it as a learning experience and a springboard for your future jobs. Make the most of it by learning and doing as much as you can. You’ll find this will serve you tremendously well as you move forward in your career.


APhippsAshley Graham Phipps (’08, Political Science; MAM ’09), Employer Relations Coordinator

Don’t be afraid to say no.  As a young professional, you often feel that you need to be accommodating to everyone and everything.  If you say yes to everything, you will stretch yourself thin and run yourself into the ground.   Say yes to a lot of things, but be confident in yourself to say no.







Stay Connected to Mother So Dear

Stephen Edwards

Stephen Edwards (‘10), Office of Alumni Engagement, Assistant Director of Young Alumni and Student Engagement
edwardsj@nullwfu.edu / @stephenjedwards

Welcome to the Alumni Family, Class of 2015!

Hard to believe you heard your name called out in front of so many friends and family as you walked across stage, isn’t it? A graduate of Wake Forest University. Congratulations! When you stepped foot onto the Quad for the first time in high school, you probably did not expect that this place would have the impact it did on you, nor you on it. But what now? How do you stay connected with a place you care about deeply, when you and your fellow graduates might be teaching English in Belgium or running financial models on Wall Street, and everything in between in every part of the world. Having learned a great deal about staying “connected” my first four years out of Wake living in Dallas, TX and now working back at Mother So Dear, here is some advice on how to stay connected to Wake Forest, one another, and the work we can do together.

Stay Connected with the University

Let’s get the obvious out of the way…while you may not miss the stress of an exam week, more than likely, you are going to miss the wonder of this wonderful place, the friends you made, the influence of mentors, coaches, professors, and so many other amazing people you met here. There is just something about little ol’ Wake Forest. Now, as a graduate, I encourage you to stay in touch with this special place… here are some ways to stay connected with the University:

  • Alumni Office: Update your contact information, set up your Gmail account, use the alumni directory, and more.
  • OPCDUtilize the vast resources provided around alumni personal and career development.
  • ZSR LibraryTake advantage of free database resources whether in graduate school or as a tool in your industry.
  • LinkedIn: Join the WFU Alumni Group and the 25+ alumni subgroups by industry and geography.
  • Homecoming: (September 25-26 this year) to visit underclassmen friends, catch the football game, and more
  • Twitter, Instagram & Facebook: As always, stay connected with Wake Forest via social media for updates on news, events, and much more.

Stay Connected with the Deacon Family

Being a Deacon is a connection that runs deep, and I encourage you to make meaningful social and professional connections through this network. There are nearly 50 local WFU Alumni clubs around the world, so wherever you are moving, more than likely, there is an active group of Deacs waiting for you to get connected with them! You can find the list here.  Through these Deacon communities, you are provided the opportunity to be a volunteer, mentor to current students, participate in job shadow programs, attend exciting events like “Hack the Met” in NYC, hear from healthcare industry leaders in Boston, attend a Nationals game in DC with young alumni, take a behind the scenes winery tour in San Francisco and much more. Regardless of how you want to stay connected, the local clubs are a great way to deepen your relationship with other Deacon alumni, family, and friends.

Stay Connected with the Mission

Lastly, I encourage you to look for opportunities to be an ambassador of Wake Forest, living out a spirit of “Pro Humanitate”. That may mean serving regularly with a community partner seeking to meet social services or make an impact on areas of injustice in your city (did you hear about Pro Humanitate Day?), but it can also mean other things as well. Consider serving with the Admissions Office, as an alumni volunteer, partnering with the Alumni Office as a local club young alumni leader, or investing in the future of Wake Forest as best you can. Always share your love of Wake Forest with your family, friends, and local community, strengthening ties to Wake Forest wherever you are from, or wherever you live now.

All the best to each of you in your personal and professional endeavors. While graduation may seem like an ending of sorts, it is the beginning of an exciting journey as alumni of this great place! There is nothing like the Old Gold and Black.



Transitions. Letting Go and Moving Forward.

Transition is something we face on campus no matter our role within the community.  We experience several transitions within one academic year – move-in, winter break, move-out, graduation, and summer break.  I found the post below by Allison McWilliams insightful in providing a thoughtful perspective in coping with the transition you may be experiencing as the semester draws to a close as summer break begins.  I encourage you to read further and share with others in transition.

Transitions. Letting Go and Moving Forward.

Originally published on May 4, 2015 by Allison McWilliams, Ph.D. for the Mentoring Resource Center Blog

Transitions, no matter how well-equipped you are or how ready you feel, are almost always hard. There is a real process of letting go that requires acknowledgement and a certain amount of grieving. Things will be left behind – both physically and emotionally. It could be that some of your stuff, which seemed so important to you, will not fit in your new space. It could be that the way that you’ve always managed things in the past won’t work as well in the future. People who have been your support system may not be with you on your new journey. To brush past this, to pretend like it may not be happening, is to cheapen it. And, let’s be honest: deal with it now, or deal with it later, you’re going to have to deal with it.

William Bridges talks about three stages of transition. First there is this letting go process, which he calls the “ending.” At the other end of that is a “new beginning.” But the hardest part, and possibly the most important part, is what happens in between, the “neutral zone,” as he calls it. This is when people are in “free fall,” tied neither to what they just left nor to what is to come. For some, this stage is incredibly freeing: there are no rules! There is no stuff! I can do whatever I want! But for many, this stage is fraught with confusion and tension. What do I hold onto? What is going to happen when I land?

The end of a school year is a transition for everyone involved. For some of us, who work here, it’s a period of relief that we in some ways work towards all year. For a couple of months, we can relax our minds, relax our schedules, relax our dress codes even. For many of our students it’s a transition to summer plans that may include travel to new places, taking on a new job or internship, even just moving back home to a familiar place but in a new role. But for our seniors, this is a stage of enormous free fall. They are daring to step out (OK, maybe be pushed out a bit) into the unknown, beyond the walls of this safe and familiar place. They are moving to a new city, taking on new roles as alumni and young professionals and graduate students. They are leaving close friends, familiar restaurants, beloved faculty and staff members. And sure, it’s exciting. But it’s scary, too. They haven’t quite reached their new beginning, yet.

So, if you know one of these young people, give them an extra hug, an extra nod of encouragement, tell them how proud you are of them. Remind them that everything that they have done up until this moment has prepared them for this moment, and they are ready. Transitions are hard. Change is uncomfortable. But it’s by facing the hard things, it’s by allowing ourselves to be uncomfortable, that we truly grow into the person we are meant to be.

Before Summer Begins, Reflect.

Congratulations! You made it through the academic year. Finals are done. Take a deep breath and exhale. Whew! You did it. Many of you are headed in different directions this summer. You will be starting your first job after graduation, preparing for graduate school, or beginning an internship with a possible vacation sprinkled in with family and friends. But, before you get too far into the summer months, spend some time in reflection. What did you learn about yourself? What was challenging? What was rewarding? How did you develop personally and professionally? These are a few questions to ponder as you reflect upon this semester and year. Summer is a great time for respite and unplugging from reality. But, don’t rest on your laurels for too long. The answers you gather from reflection will help you set the intention and goals you want to accomplish this summer.

To help set the course for a meaningful and productive summer, 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. So, you accepted the offer for a new job, grad school, or internship. What do you intend to learn and gain from the first few months on the job, grad school, or the internship experience? What do you hope to gain? How are you going to be intentional in your skill development and network building? Consider answering these questions before getting too deep into the summer months. 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 summer. Here are a few questions to consider before developing your SMART goals: What do you want to accomplish this summer? When you look back at the end of the summer, 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 delivering public presentations or research? I recommend setting 2-3 goals for the summer. Consider focusing on areas such as the skills you want to further develop, the project(s) you want to accomplish, and the people you want to meet and network with to learn more about the industry. 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. Spend some time reflecting on your courses, extracurricular activities, and experiences from the spring semester. 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 goals based on the information gathered about yourself, courses, and activities from the past semester. If needed, repeat step two and revise your goals. Goals do not have to be static. They can be modified as plans change.

Remember – Be intentional. Be goal-oriented. Be reflective.

Best wishes for a restful, productive summer!