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Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

Amy Willard

Diary of an Intern: Lauren’s First Week

Lauren has experienced her first week at her internship. She is doing some amazing work and partaking in once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Let’s find out how her week went and view pictures of where she works. Check out Lauren’s first week!

NJ Transit to NYC

NJ Transit to NYC

Hi everyone! I’m back home and working. Ms. Greene’s office is on the Upper West Side, so I commute from my house in New Jersey. I catch the 9:12 a.m. train into Penn Station (a 40 minute ride). On the train, I scroll through restaurant news on Eater.com to see if there is anything that Ms. Greene will want to hear about.

Penn Station to the office.

Penn Station to the office.

When I get off in Penn, I take either the 2 or 3 Subway line, which gets me to work in 10 minutes. I’m not sure if commuting will ever be easy, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s try to look like you know where you’re going! Most of the time, you do know the way, but you second guess yourself among the crowds and chaos.  If you are lost, you can discreetly use the iPhone app HopStop

I really recommend HopStop to anyone who has to use the Subway in NYC.

I really recommend HopStop to anyone who has to use the Subway in NYC.

 

 

The Subway was hot and crowded with temperatures as high as can be.

The Subway was hot and crowded with temperatures as high as can be.

In Ms. Greene’s office, there’s her, her personal assistant, Maria, and her year-round intern, Ana (Ana builds on Ms. Greene’s social media presence and her Etsy shop). I am lucky that Ms. Greene takes the weather into consideration when giving us assignments. Since temperatures were nearly 100 degrees last week, I did most of my work in office.

When you’re a freelance writer, you are your brand, and Ms. Greene has taught me the importance of ‘packaging your persona.’ Last summer, she began an Etsy shop, “The Accidental Bag Lady.” 

 

This Vintage Beaded Evening Bag with Art Deco Flower Design is one of my favorites of Ms. Greene’s.

This Vintage Beaded Evening Bag with Art Deco Flower Design is one of my favorites of Ms. Greene’s.

She collects vintage evening bags, and wanted to find a way to write about them and sell them. Each bag has a unique story and she loves sharing where she purchased the purses (or who gifted them!) and what restaurants they’ve been to by her side (funny how one can be jealous of a purse…). I spent my time photographing and writing copy for their Etsy descriptions. Ms. Greene inspires me to take what I like to do and turn it into income, whether that be writing or collecting antiques.

Next week, it’ll be back to food!

Lauren Friezo, ‘15 – English major

 

 

TIP: Asking for a Recommendation-Part 2

OPCD Expert Contributor – Lauren Beam, Assistant Director of Alumni Personal and Professional Development

A common question that I receive from students during internship search season in the Spring semester is “How do I go about asking my supervisor from my last summer’s internship for a letter of recommendation or to serve as a reference?” Obviously, many students forget this all-too-important task at the end of their internship and ultimately put it off until applications for the next summer’s internships begin.

There are several risks involved with waiting to ask for a recommendation or reference. First, your work abilities and strengths will no longer be fresh on your supervisor’s mind. As a result, your supervisor may not be able to articulate the value that you could bring to a future employer once eight or more months have passed. Second, if you have not kept in touch with your supervisor, they may be unclear about your career path and where you are headed. This can be a difficult and awkward conversation to have via email or phone, which is why an in-person conversation during the summer is much more useful. You will want your supervisor to be clear about your career goals to best write you a letter that reflects your related skill set. Finally, you want to show respect for your internship supervisor’s time. By waiting until January or February when summer applications are due, your supervisor may not have enough turnaround time to write you a letter before deadlines hit. Asking for a letter of recommendation or reference towards the end of your summer internship experience is beneficial to both you and your supervisor.

Another common internship question often comes from rising seniors. Many of these students are interested in full-time job opportunities with their internship employer for after graduation. Some companies (depending on the career industry) are known for making offers to some of their interns at the end of the summer, based on internship performance and the number of entry-level job openings available. If your internship site does not have a process for making end-of-summer job offers, you may also want to inquire about job opportunities in a meeting with your supervisor as the summer comes to a close. Be sure to emphasize your interest in the company, how much you learned through your summer experience, and your desire to contribute to their organization in the future. Then, proceed with a verbal inquiry about full-time positions and how you should proceed in the coming year. For some employers, they may be interested in hiring you, but will ask that you check back in with them via phone or email in late Fall or early Spring when they have more information about their hiring needs and open positions.

TIP: Asking for a Recommendation-Part 1

OPCD Expert Contributor – Lauren Beam, Assistant Director of Alumni Personal and Professional Development

Securing a letter of recommendation, reference, or future job offer from your internship supervisor is best done in person and towards the end of your summer internship experience. Here are some tips and advice for how to do the “asking.”

Watch the video highlighting six steps to asking for a recommendation.

To learn more, read further for details on asking for a recommendation.

Why Ask for a Letter of Recommendation Now vs. Later?

1 – Your performance is fresh in your supervisor’s mind.

2 – You can have an in-person conversation about your future career goals.

3 – It’s not last minute (i.e. the following Spring semester when job and internship applications are due) and provides more time for the supervisor to write a letter for you.

Steps to Asking for a Letter of Recommendation:

1 – Set up a Meeting: Set up a meeting with your direct supervisor and/or other key colleagues that you have worked closely with over the summer. Schedule approximately 1-2 weeks before your internship ends.

2 – Get Feedback and Discuss Career Goals: Use the meeting(s) as an opportunity to get feedback on your performance throughout the summer – what you did well, areas for improvement. You may also use this time to share what you learned and the next steps in your career trajectory. If you are a rising senior, you may also express interest in full-time job opportunities, if available, within the organization.

3 – Ask for the Letter of Recommendation: As the meeting comes to a close, this would be an appropriate time to ask for the letter of recommendation and/or to list your supervisor as a reference on future applications. You might say “As my internship is coming to an end, do you feel comfortable writing a letter of recommendation for me to use for future applications and opportunities?”

4 – Provide Supporting Materials: Have a copy of your resume (updated with your summer internship experience) for your supervisor to refer to when writing your letter. You may also choose to provide examples of your work from the summer and any other supporting materials to help your supervisor best capture your skill set and value to a future employer.

5 – Say “Thank You”: A “thank you” note goes a long way. As your internship draws to a close, you should write a hand-written “thank you” note to your supervisor (for their support throughout the summer and for the letter of recommendation) and any other colleagues that have assisted you throughout your internship.

6 – Stay in Touch: Stay in touch with your supervisor and provide periodical updates throughout the year on your career progression. For example, you would want to give them a “heads up” when using their letter of recommendation or name/contact information as a reference on a job or internship application. Keeping your supervisor in the loop will enable them to speak highly of you when contacted by a potential new employer.

Diary of an Intern: Charles’ Self-Discovery & Reflection – Part 2

Congratulations to our Diary of an Intern series’ student blog contributor, Charles Thomas! He completed his summer internship. Charles’ final posts are reflections on self discovery and experience as an intern. Charles will share what he learned about himself and the skills developed during the internship. Read his reflection in a 2-part series – Diary of an Intern: Self Discovery and Reflection.

Let’s read what Charles learned from others and the advice he gives to future interns, especially when interning internationally.  Great new perspective and fantastic advice!

Now that I have finished interning for the Royal Geographical Society – Hong Kong (RGS-HK), my next step is ensuring that I apply what I learned.  What I found to be perhaps the most influential aspect of my internship was the way in which it shaped my perspective.  First, spending time abroad in almost any capacity means exposure to different cultures and ways of life.  Because Hong Kong has such a pronounced international influence, I had the opportunity to form relationships with not only people native to Hong Kong, but ex-patriots from a wide variety of nationalities.  Furthermore, interning with RGS-HK, an organization designed to accentuate geographical phenomena across the globe, demonstrated to me that there are more ways to lead one’s life than I had previously considered.  For example, the guest speakers I met ranged from geopolitical analysts to professional mountaineers.  What each of them seemed to share was an ability to make the most of the hand they were dealt.  In relation to my own future, I learned that I do not need to know every detail of the path I want to follow, as long as I can recognize and seize the opportunities that come my way.  If I had to offer any advice to future interns, I would suggest hitting the ground running.  First impressions are important and if you prove yourself right away, you may set the tone for a much more valuable internship experience than you would have otherwise.  This is especially important for American students.  Internationally, some people have the perception that American students are unfocused and lazy—prove them wrong.

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

 

 

Diary of an Intern: Charles’ Self-Discovery & Reflection – Part 1

Congratulations to our Diary of an Intern series’ student blog contributor, Charles Thomas! He completed his summer internship. Charles’ final posts are reflections on self discovery and experience as an intern. Charles will share what he learned about himself and the skills developed during the internship. Read his reflection in a 2-part series – Diary of an Intern: Self Discovery and Reflection.

Let’s learn what Charles discovered about himself and the experience at the Royal Geographical Society in Hong Kong.

Shutting down the computer for the last time.

Shutting down the computer for the last time.

My time as an intern for the Royal Geographical Society – Hong Kong afforded me an incredible range of experiences from which to learn.  While in the office, the projects I completed offered me experience with drafting, editing, and condensing various documents.  Through these assignments, I not only honed my prior writing ability, but I learned new skills, such as how to produce an executive summary report.  I also sat in on meetings with the RGS-HK Director, during which he formed relationships with prospective individual and corporate sponsors.  After these meetings, the RGS-HK Director often explained to me why he did or said certain things and he would sometimes ask my perspective and challenge me to defend it.  Additionally, the RGS-HK Events Officer brought me with her to school outreach programs, where we ensured that each event ran smoothly and evaluated the events, providing feedback to RGS-HK on how to improve future school outreach programs.  Similarly, I was involved in the evening lecture events as well, which RGS-HK hosted for members and guests of members.  The most recent lecture, for example, featured an analysis of how China and Japan’s involvement in World War II continues to shape the political climate in the Eastern world.  Among other tasks, I was responsible for taking notes on these lectures for future reference. What was particularly enthralling about my internship was that, while I spent most of my time working on internal operations, I also had exposure to the output of our work in the office, through attending evening lectures, school outreach programs, field trips, and interacting with members.  Interning with RGS-HK was an incredible opportunity and I am excited to see how what I learned there will shape my life in the future. 
 

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

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!