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Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

Professional Development

Diary of an Intern: Maeghan’s Self Discovery & Reflection – Part 2

Congratulations to our Diary of an Intern series’ student blog contributor, Maeghan Livingston! She completed her summer internship. Maeghan’s final posts are reflections on self discovery and experience as an intern. Maeghan will share what she learned about herself and the skills developed during the internship. Read her reflection in a 2-part series – Diary of an Intern: Self Discovery and Reflection.

Let’s read what Maeghan learned from her experience and the advice she gives to future interns.  Wonderful advice and candid insights!

Maeghan LivingstonThank you so much for sharing in my experience this summer! I hope that something I shared gave you some insight into my professional development and I also hope that you were encouraged to continue to pursue your own professional aspirations and passions!

Beautiful Nashville skyline form Love Circle Park

Beautiful Nashville skyline from Love Circle Park!

In my previous post, I shared with you some ways that I developed and what I enjoyed most about my internship. Moving forward, there is so much more I want to learn about the education sector. Previous to this summer, I was settled on the idea of working in higher education and student affairs. After my experience, I am reminded that before I can help minority students in the university setting, some of them need help getting to college during their secondary education. The diversity training and conversations also got my attention. This summer, I will be spending time learning more about jobs in both levels of education and in specific areas of coursework; this research will help me decide where I will have the most to offer and where I personally be most fulfilled. Before going back to Wake Forest in August, I hope to have completed a vision board for my dorm room with my professional aspirations compiled so that I can be reminded of what I have learned and where I want to see myself in the upcoming year.

There is no limit to what you can accomplish with a focused mind fueled by relentless passion.

There is no limit to what you can accomplish with a focused mind fueled by relentless passion.

For those of you looking for internships, here are a few golden nuggets to take with you:

1.    Start Early: Next summer may seem far away but it is never too early to begin researching opportunities! Talk to professionals in your areas of interest. Many times I would set up informal interviews with a professional in higher education to simply learn about what they do. Often, simply expressing genuine interest in someone’s work will open doors to opportunities. Our OPCD is so helpful! Talk to counselors there about your goals so that they can help you to prepare for interviews and review your resume! Finally, DEACONSOURCE. Our DeaconSource network is what landed me with this internship! In other words, use your resources and do the research!

2.    Be open minded: Every opportunity has value, whether you think you will enjoy it or not. I created a month long job shadowing experience for myself during my freshman summer with the president of a local hospital; at the time I thought that I might want to go into health policy and administration. The summer was very informative. I was able to sit in on meetings with her vice presidents and see how she operated under many different hats. At the end of the summer, I thought to myself, “This is good, but where is the fire?” The experience showed me that my interest was not a passion. Lesson: There is something to learn from every experience.

3.    Reflect: Reflection is the MOST important part of every experience. There is so much we miss in the moment and do not connect with until we are looking back. This blog was one way that I engaged in reflection, I also journal regularly. It is always fun to read old blog posts and journal entries because it helps me to measure my growth and keeps me focused on my goals.

I hope these tips help you as you search for and begin your internships! As always, thank you for sharing your time with me!

Blessings and best wishes,

Maeghan 😉

Maeghan Livingston ’15 – Sociology major

 

Diary of an Intern: Maeghan’s Self Discovery & Reflection – Part 1

Congratulations to our Diary of an Intern series’ student blog contributor, Maeghan Livingston! She completed her summer internship. Maeghan’s final posts are reflections on self discovery and experience as an intern. Maeghan will share what she learned about herself and the skills developed during the internship. Read her reflection in a 2-part series – Diary of an Intern: Self Discovery and Reflection.

Let’s learn what Maeghan discovered about herself and the experience at Teach for America in Nashville.

Maeghan LivingstonHello all!

My time in Nashville, TN has sadly come to an end! I really enjoyed my time in music city and there are a few reflective thoughts I would like to share with you about my experience.

Some corps members and I during the last week of institute!

Some corps members and I during the last week of institute!

While working with Teach for America, I learned a lot about myself. My passion for education continued to burn as my concern for social justice was deepened. One of the lessons that I took home from my internship was the importance of having difficult conversations. Throughout the summer, many corps members grappled with the content presented at our diversity training sessions. These conversations surrounding race, socioeconomic status, micro-aggressions, and other sensitive topics continued at dinner and in other public spaces. As a black female interacting with my white counterparts, I learned how to navigate emotionally charged conversations to reach shared understanding. Though difficult, both parties in the interaction had the opportunity to reconcile differences and work towards our common goal, equipping us to be the best for our students. I did not know how “gifted”, for lack of another term, I was at calmly challenging the perspectives of others, while effectively “calling them out” in love and then “calling them into” a shared vision.

Maeghan and Kyle, Managing Director, Pre-Service Training at Teach For America for Greater Nashville

Maeghan and Kyle, Managing Director, Pre-Service Training at Teach For America for Greater Nashville

The most important thing that I learned about myself was the depth of my capacity to learn and grow, specifically when pushed outside of my comfort zone. This summer I was challenged professionally, spiritually and personally. I was offered an array of different perspectives on topics that vary from classroom management, to religion and culture, to professionalism. I was able to learn from everyone, whether we agreed or not, and then successfully use constructive criticism to push myself to a place of deeper understanding. In my one-on-one sessions with my manager, we talk candidly about my strengths and weaknesses professionally. These conversations were not always comfortable, but no one obtains true growth inside of their comfort zones. I realized that I had become somewhat comfortable with whom I was as a person but I yearned to grow and experience the world in new ways. The only way that I can continue to do this is if I push myself into unlikely places and situations; this is where I learn who I really am and what I am truly capable of. For me, with God, the sky is the limit! 

This upcoming year is my last at Mother So Dear, so I plan to improve as a student and campus leader by strategically working to further develop my strengths and address my weaknesses. The strengths that I identified in myself this summer are in organization and administration skills, as well as in networking and relationship skills. One thing that continues to challenge me is balancing tasks and time management. As I learn to better manage my time, I will be more effective in organizing and presenting project ideas within my organizations and in the classroom. I was reminded this summer that I am a “process thinker”, in other words, I do not come up with great solutions in high pressure and time crunched situations, although I am great with implementing the idea once it is developed. I come up with better solutions and results when I have time to think and work through details.

Welcoming our corps member home from their last day of summer academy!

Welcoming our corps member home from their last day of summer academy!

One of the things that I enjoyed most about my internship with Teach for America was the people that I got to interact with every day. They each had unique talents, experiences, backgrounds that I could appreciate and learn from. Our top managing director had amazing leadership skills that I hope to model in some ways. One of the corps members had an unmatched zest for life and fun. Sometimes we need to be reminded to live a little. Some of the corps member had uprooted their families and left the other professional jobs to come teach underprivileged youth. I admire their selflessness and dedication to social justice. These are just a few examples, but I hope to exemplify these traits and attitudes in my work and studies. 

Maeghan Livingston ’15 – Sociology major

 

 

 

TIP: Staying Connected: Follow-Up and The Importance of a Thank You

Set yourself apart from other interns by staying connected and following up with your supervisor and key contacts (your network). It is important to continue to build your professional brand and reputation after your internship. A great example is to send a handwritten thank you note expressing your appreciation for the experience, guidance, and growth. You will make a great impression if you send a note to everyone who impacted your experience. Also, if you find an interesting article related to their industry, share it with them. It shows you have interest in news and trends related to their company and industry. The more you give to them; the more they will be willing to give back to you.

Read further as our employers share their thoughts on the importance of staying connected, following up, and sending thank you notes at the conclusion of an internship.

CSX logo

Lauren Dealexandris, Director of Intermodal Finance

Follow up is important throughout your career for several reasons. The contacts you make during that important first career experience may become future references, networking connections, or a potential hiring manager. We seriously consider our interns for full time positions, so that impression counts. In addition, it is an unbelievably small world and you never know when paths will cross again, so it is wise to build instead of overlook or burn bridges. Finally, this type of correspondence shows professionalism and maturity; it is not something everyone does, and you may be surprised at the responsiveness from employers. This helps build your brand and reputation with employers.

Deloitte logo

Liz Hannah, Carolinas Campus Recruiter

Timely follow-up is crucial to your success as a professional and is an effective way to reiterate your interest in a firm. Thank you notes are always greatly appreciated, but unfortunately, they often have spelling or grammatical errors which can hinder a candidate in the process. I would suggest exhaustively proofreading any thank you notes or emails before they are sent. In regards to promptly addressing a full-time offer following an internship, we highly value a quick response.

 

United_technologies_logo

Meghan Hayden, HR Functional Development Manager

A thank you note may be your last opportunity to make an impression, so don’t let it go to waste. 

Use your note to personally thank someone for their time and efforts.  State specifically some of the things you learned in the role, and how you might use those skills in the future.  Ask for support from your manager for a full-time role, or thank them for already providing that support.  Close the message by opening the door for future contact.  You can tell a manager that you will call them in a few weeks or months to find out how a project is progressing, or to catch up on the outcome of one of your classes.  If you make a commitment, keep it.

(Don’t forget, in business correspondence a thank you should always be a typed letter or e-mail, not a hand-written card.)

 

TIP: Receiving Feedback on Your Performance

Before you leave your internship, you’ll want to gather feedback from your supervisor. Seeking feedback helps you uncover your hidden strengths and weaknesses. The feedback is based on your performance and skills demonstrated during the internship. Unlike your academic coursework, you don’t receive a grade on every task you complete on the job. Oftentimes, the only time you receive feedback on your work is during annual evaluation. However, you may be fortunate to have frequent meetings with your supervisor to solicit feedback on your performance throughout the year. The internship is a great place to practice receiving feedback in a professional manner. It is best to have these conversations in person rather than by phone or email. This can be accomplished by requesting a meeting with your supervisor. Don’t wait until the last day of your internship or after you leave! Schedule the meeting one to two weeks prior to your departure date. Therefore, your job performance and contributions will be fresh on his/her mind.

Make it easy for your supervisor by providing him/her with a performance feedback evaluation form. Prior to the meeting, use the form to reflect upon your experience and self-evaluate each competency area. If you kept a journal of internship projects and experiences, use it as a reference to write down concrete examples of how you demonstrated specific skills. The form will help guide the conversation with your supervisor. “An oral review of the written evaluation can provide you with several benefits, including preparation for performance review sessions with future employers, meaningful self-reflection on the significance of the work-learning experience, and focused dialogue with a professional in the field about your readiness for a particular career path or position. Most importantly, in-depth discussions centered upon established performance standards could enhance the likelihood that you would leave the internship with a more realistic understanding of your professional performance.”[1] This may be the only opportunity to receive specific feedback on your work as an intern. Ask your supervisor to review the form, rate your performance, and provide examples of skills demonstrated during the internship. These examples will help guide you in further developing your skills for life after college.

When you return to school, use the feedback evaluation form (from your reflection and the feedback received from your supervisor) to select areas for improvement, and seek opportunities to build those skills in the coming year. The skill-building directory is a great resource for searching for opportunities on campus to develop and strengthen your skills. I encourage you to continue building your professional skill set by using a variety of methods such as academic coursework, extra-curricular and co-curricular experiences, and educational workshops.


[1] http://www.naceweb.org/s06122013/intern-performance-review.aspx

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

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

Laura JurotichI am working in the Visitor Experience department this summer at the Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) as a Public Programs intern. I work most closely with our Public Programs Coordinator, Corey, and the other Public Programs intern, Maggie. We work closely with others in the Visitor Experience department as well as throughout the NHA to facilitate the wide variety of family and public programs that the NHA hosts throughout the summer. Our programs thus far have ranged from Family Adventure Day at the Oldest House to a lecture on Quaker Nantucket to a rooftop party with a local events planner to a four-night run of Orson Welles’ play Moby-Dick Rehearsed that wrapped last night. Maggie and I facilitate the drop-in painting in the Greater Light garden program every Wednesday morning where all are encouraged to come to the garden at the 1930’s barn-converted-artist home and watercolor paint in the gardens.

The NHA assigns projects to each intern to work on throughout the summer. My project is to create crafts for family programs happening at the NHA throughout the year, including Family Adventure Day, Harvest Fair, and Night of Holiday Magic. I created three crafts for Family Adventure Day, which occurred last Sunday at our Oldest House property, including paper plate discs, faux-wood grain boxes, and strewing herb sachets. In addition to planning the crafts for Family Adventure Day, I also helped plan and organize the program. I am now working on creating and prototyping crafts that are fun, educational, venue appropriate, and historically accurate for Harvest Fair and Night of Holiday Magic.

I am developing many skills this summer, especially customer service. All of our visitors are our customers, and I am constantly working to ensure that they have the best experience possible. My supervisor described how we are producing events for our visitors, and it is our job to ensure that they have a flawless visit, whether it is to the Whaling Museum, one of our historic sites, or a public program. I spend much of my time interacting with our visitors, and it has made me highly aware of being able to anticipate their needs and answer all questions. I am extremely grateful to be learning these incredibly valuable customer service skills at the NHA this summer.

Laura Jurotich ’15 – History and Art History double major

 

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