Posts Tagged: advice for college grads
Are you graduating this year or thinking about your post-college career prospects? Check out these simple, effective tips from Lauren Berger, the “Intern Queen,” who completed 15 internships (!) throughout her four years of college. Berger is now CEO of www.internqueen.com, a free internship site where students can both apply for top-notch opportunities and read Lauren’s blog on how to make the most of them. Lauren is also the author of the new book, All Work, No Pay: Finding An Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience.
1. Determine what makes you tick. When I was a freshman in college, I had no clue how I wanted to spend my time after graduation. In my book, I recall printing out a list of the college majors my school had to offer. I started circling everything that interested me. When I looked over the sheet, I’d circled everything within the communications space – PR, Marketing, Entertainment, Advertising. This was my starting point.
2. Visit your career center – more than once. The career center should be one of your first stops when trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. The career center spends time every single day building relationships with local, national, and international employers in fields across the board – for you! Many students make the mistake of only going in once and expecting magic. On your first visit, meet with a counselor and formulate a plan. Determine when your next visit will be. You should visit the career center every 6-8 weeks.
3. Do your research. Going back to my freshman year, I had my list of industries I was potentially interested in – PR, Marketing, Entertainment, Advertising. I sat down at my computer and started researching. I was going to Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida at the time. I typed into the computer “PR Internships in Tallahassee, Florida” – a few companies popped up. I clicked on the first company that popped up and read as much material as I could on their website. When researching, it’s important to review the mission statement, executive bios, and the about us section.
4. Con’t be afraid to cold call. When looking for your dream company, don’t be afraid to take initiative. If you cannot find any career or internship information on the website, call the company main number, and ask to speak with the internship coordinator. Remember to be polite to whomever you speak with. The gatekeeper (receptionist) might not put you through BUT it’s worth calling and attempting to speak with the internship coordinator. You never know!
Thank you, Lauren, for the guest post!
By Lindsey Pollak
I just finished reading Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants, and I absolutely loved it.
Fey shares a fair amount of career advice in the book, especially for women in male-dominated industries like comedy, and I wanted to share one passage that particularly stood out to me as excellent advice for both women and men.
Fey tells the story of Amy Poehler, new to Saturday Night Live at the time, playing around in the SNL writers’ room and doing something vulgar and “unladylike” as a joke.
While most of the comedians and writers in the room are cracking up, Jimmy Fallon isn’t. “Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it,” he says.
Poehler stops her routine cold and says, “I don’t #@&$ care if you like it.” And she goes right back to making everyone else laugh (which is her job, after all).
Fey describes witnessing this moment as a “cosmic shift” for her. While of course we often do have to worry what people think — bosses, clients, law school admissions officers, etc. — many times we don’t. We can trust our instincts and just do our jobs the best way we know how. How freeing not to care what most other people think, to ignore the haters!
Of course it’s not smart to blindly disregard all negative feedback, so if you find yourself in a situation where someone is criticizing your work (or anything else about you, for that matter), Fey advises you to ask this important question, “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?”
If the answer is yes, then it’s in your best interest to deal with the feedback constructively.
If the answer is no, which — let’s be honest — it often is, Fey’s advice is to simply ignore it and move on. Focus instead on the feedback and measures that do matter to your success, like sales data, formal reviews and promotions.
I know it can be hard to take criticism of any sort, and I know I’ve been guilty on more than a few occasions of being way too sensitive to disapproval. But Fey’s advice is so wise, and the younger you can learn this lesson, the more successful and happy you’ll be.
So, the next time a classmate, colleague, frenemy or even a total stranger criticizes you for doing what you think is right (“You’re such a grind. Stop studying so hard.” “Why are you becoming a kindergarten teacher when you could make more money working in a corporation?” “Stop getting so dressed up for work. It makes the rest of us look bad.”), do your very best to ignore it and move on.
Again, remember that it is in your best interest to care when the criticism is coming from someone who is actually formally assessing you. But in all other cases, channel Amy Poehler and say to yourself:
“I don’t #@&$ care if you like it.”
But, of course, I really hope you like this blog post. :)
By Lindsey Pollak
This week’s post is a Q&A session with Nate Whitson from Intern Match. As you’ll see, Nate shares some valuable tips and pointers on getting, keeping and making the most of internships.
The value and importance of internships have changed in many ways over the last 10 years. First, internship experience has evolved from simply a resume booster to essentially a pre-requisite for landing an entry-level job.
Second, the popularity has increased. In fact, the number of internships taken by students has increased over 8-fold in the last 10 years, and internships are now the #1 way in which employers are hiring students.
Because of this increase in importance, internships have become much more competitive in the past decade. Career changers, graduate students and even high school students all compete for the same positions. This means that looking for positions early and often in college is essential.
2. A lot of recent grads are taking unpaid internships after they graduate. Can you discuss this trend and whether you think this is a good choice for a recent grad who can’t find a full-time, paid position?
In the current economy, recent graduates are having a hard time finding jobs and are willing to do just about anything to get a foot in the door. At the same time, other employees who are being laid off are trying to break into new industries — and at times are offering their services as unpaid interns. This means businesses are seeing applications from a variety of qualified candidates who are willing to work for free.
There are a lot of problems with this. Unpaid internships can be exploitative, and they exclude those students and graduates who need to support themselves with a wage. They are also illegal in some circumstances.
That being said, considering an unpaid internship as a recent grad depends on the individual and the opportunity. For example, some non-profits or startups simply cannot afford to pay, but offer a highly educational experience that may be worth taking (in fact until this year, White House internships were unpaid). My recommendation is to keep an open mind, but be cautious of organizations looking to exploit over-eager job seekers. Part-time unpaid opportunities are frequently a better decision.
3. What are some ways to get the most out of an internship?
The first step of any internship is proving your salt – turn work in on time, keep a positive and professional attitude, and make yourself a valued member of the team.
Throughout the internship, develop a broad understanding of how the organization works, what skills different employees have that make them valued, and talk to your co-workers about their jobs and how they got there. Networking is more powerful when combined with a sincere interest in your co-workers’ career paths. Also, focus in on learning industry-specific software tools, like Salesforce for a sales internship, or QuickBooks for an accounting internship. This experience is something that is not taught in school.
4. How can people turn an internship into a full-time job?
Turning an internship into a job is a matter of proving your commitment to the organization and going the extra mile — even on small tasks (all organizations have grunt work, and showing that you are committed regardless of the task helps prove that you are indispensible).
Also, staying in touch with your boss after the position is over is a great way to convert internships into jobs. Connect with co-workers on LinkedIn, try to assist the organization in finding their next intern and write a positive article or blog post in your school newspaper or department blog about the experience.
5. Can you share some tips and tricks about the intern hiring process?
Having a great resume is essential. You can view our sample internship resume here, and know that highlighting past work experiences in a quantitative manner helps a resume standout.
Getting hired also means marketing yourself. Develop a professional persona that you use in all of your applications. Create a LinkedIn account that includes a professional picture. Make this picture the same as your Facebook picture (as long as it’s professional), and print out business cards.
The easiest and most often overlooked tactic that makes a major difference in the hiring process is following-up. Send a kind follow-up email the day after your interview. If it was an in-person interview, send a hand-written “thank you” note. Small personal touches will make you stand out.
Thank you to Nate for answering my questions today. What additional questions do you have about internships?
By Lindsey Pollak
I was struck by a recent front page story in The New York Times that discussed the steady rise in Chinese students applying to U.S. colleges and universities.
While the article focused on how schools like Grinnell College in Iowa actively recruit in China and how an international students can “have an edge if he or she can pay full tuition,” my mind immediately fast-forwarded four years: Will the same universities that wooed these students and took their money help them land jobs when they graduate? No one seems to be talking about this.
Well, no one that is except the students themselves. On almost every campus I visit, international students from China and elsewhere approach me seeking advice on how to land positions in the U.S. once they receive their degrees.
Here are the tips I share, based on research, conversations with successful international workers and my own experience attending grad school in Australia and acquiring a visa to work there for an additional year:
1. Start early. This is good advice for any student (particularly in the current job market), but it’s especially crucial for students from outside the U.S. It will inevitably take longer to find a job with an employer that sponsors employees requiring work visas, so the sooner you start to look for positions, the better chance you’ll have.
2. Become an expert on the laws. Take it upon yourself to become an expert on your situation. The more you personally know about visas, work permits, deadlines, academic requirements, etc. (check out the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website for lots of information) the better decisions you’ll be able to make and the more empowered you’ll feel. Yes, this is a lot of work, but it’s more than worth it.
3. Engage with career services. In addition to doing your own research, seek expert help. Particularly if you attend a school that has a large population of foreign students, your university’s career services office will have lots of experience helping international students. Take advantage of everything they offer! Attend any event specifically for international students, read all information your career services office publishes and set up an appointment with a career counselor to discuss your individual situation.
4. Network. As more and more international students attend U.S. universities, there is a growing community of alumni who have walked in your shoes. Meet these people and ask for their advice! Through your career services office, professors, LinkedIn and Facebook, seek out people a few years older than you who have come from your home country and managed to find jobs in the U.S. They’ll likely be happy to share some tips and possibly even introduce you to the hiring managers at the companies where they landed jobs.
5. Stay positive and confident. While it can be frustrating to go through an international job search and visa application process, remember that you have a lot to offer an employer. Fluency in multiple languages, knowledge of international business practices and a global perspective are all extremely valuable in the workplace right now. Make sure that you are confident in your own abilities so an employer will want to invest in you.
Are you an international student who has landed a full-time job in the U.S.? Please share any additional tips or advice!
Posted in Career Advice for Young Professionals Communication Skills Generation Y/Millennials Getting from College to Career Job Search Tips Networking Advice Networking and Personal Branding on February 11, 2011 at 8:00 am
Stephanie Rushford is an associate editor for EarlyRisersweekly.com, a website that follows Generation Y’s involvement in politics and activism. Hannah Brencher is a liaison at the United Nations for a non-governmental organization, freelancewriter, and a researcher for She’stheFirst.
Lindsey Pollak was gracious enough to offer some tips and tricks to us at our She’stheFirstLeadershipSummitthis past month. For all those who struggle with networking events or professional gatherings, read on to learn how to take your networking skills out of the box and into a position that will prepare you to “make the ask” for just about anything.
Networking is normal: The initial idea of walking up to a stranger to start a conversation may be a daunting task for anyone—especially when you want to impress someone—-however, networking is completely normal. That magazine editor in chief or financier was once in your shoes. It is important to be yourself; your colleagues will appreciate your honest and unique approach.
You’re not the first: Many times young professionals will build up the networking event or meeting in their mind; it is important to understand that supervisors and managers have networked with young professionals before. They have heard the same questions before and can offer sage advice to help guide your career. You are not reinventing the wheel by asking a manager what skills you need to promote your organization successfully—it has been asked before—-you are showing them that you have what it takes to succeed.
A real relationship: Once you make a connection with someone be sure not to abuse the relationship by being a ‘taker.’ The relationship must be mutually beneficial for both parties to succeed. If you ask an editor to review your reel, how about offering your time to help log tapes for them? Before you ask for a favor, ask yourself: what can I give in return?
No fear: Don’t be afraid to talk to anyone. Many businesses and entrepreneurs are eager to assist college students and recent grads; people are often willing to help you if you just ask them. Take the risk and talk to that highly successful executive, an opportunity missed is an opportunity lost.
Move on: Inevitably, you may be rejected in your efforts to connect with someone; they will not respond to your email or phone calls. It is paramount to move on and not obsess about this one negative experience. There will be more opportunities to showcase your talents and winning personality, and next time you just might get a ‘yes’ instead of a ‘no.’
Now that you have the skills for networking it is time to “make the ask.” Whether it’s asking the local bakery to donate cupcakes for an upcoming event or asking a CEO to help cover start-up costs for an organization, there’s a definite science involved. Turns out, it’s not as simple as the old saying, “ask and you shall receive.”
Do your homework: No matter what the need is, big or small, go into the “ask” having done your research. The Internet eliminates any excuses behind walking into a situation without knowing the history of a company or the demographic it targets. Be well prepared and knowledgeable about the organization or individual you are approaching.
Never underestimate a subject line: Let’s face it, most of us have a full inbox by lunchtime. It’s important to include a stand-out subject line in your emails, like “Girls’ Charity Seeking Your Support” that will prevent the reader from pressing “delete.” Though the exterior matters, the interior of your email counts most. Keep your message short, polite and to the point. No need to type 500 words for what can be said in only 150.
Everything happens in the follow-up: Be a person of your word and check back with anyone you have reached out to. Following up will show an individual that you are still dedicated and interested in engaging with them. Are you one to forget the follow-up? Mark it in your calendar and don’t shrug it off when the time comes. After all, you were the one to reach out so it’s important that you see the communication through to the end.
Thank You. It’s still the golden word: The message never tires, no matter what age we reach: say thank you! Despite being an in age where email is the primary form of communication, nothing quite compares to a handwritten note. Even after thanking a person look for ways in the future to acknowledge and involve them in future happenings.
With economic upheaval taking place around the world, the next generation of workers is up against a tidal wave of change. This week I had the privilege of conducting a Q&A session with Scott Gerber, who has some outspoken opinions on the future of careers for Millennials. Read Scott’s thoughts and then tell me what you think!
1. How big of a problem is youth unemployment/underemployment, and how can Millennials overcome it?
They are nothing short of global epidemics. Over 81 million young people are unemployed worldwide. In the U.S. nearly 20% of young people are unemployed–with millions more underemployed–and in countries such as Spain, the youth unemployment rate is as high as 40%. The fact is that the mantra of “work hard, get good grades and go to school to get a job” is dead and antiquated. Young people must leave the resume-handout mindset behind and learn to become self-sufficient entrepreneurs that are capable of generating their own incomes. I believe this is an achievable goal.
2. What do you consider a “real” job, and why do you encourage young people to avoid it?
A “real” job is one where you work for another individual and see no real value or upside from the work product you produce–or a place that forces you to put all of your eggs into one basket that you are neither holding nor own. In today’s new economy, where layoffs, hiring freezes, automation and corporate greed have become commonplace terms, I think it is unwise to rely on anyone but yourself when it comes to something as vital as your livelihood. To avoid the need for a “real” job, young people need to build simple, unoriginal, unsexy businesses that are capable of generating immediate revenue and can be built over time. We must stop thinking about building the next Facebook and start actually building the next tutoring service or plumbing company.
3. What is the biggest challenge young entrepreneurs face, and how do you suggest overcoming it?
Young entrepreneurs need to kill their egos. Reality check: your business will probably not become the next Groupon. The “rich by 30″ mentality is setting us back and pushing us down the path of launching start-ups built on nothing more than hopes and dreams. Plain and simple, this is stupid and will bankrupt us. We need to get real–fast–or be doomed to become a lost, foolhardy generation.
4. What advantages, if any, do Millennials have over other entrepreneurs?
We are the most technologically savvy generation in history and we usually have the ability to scale our lifestyles down to the bare bones necessities. These abilities allow us to create low-budget, minimal infrastructure start-ups with relative ease.
5. What is your #1 piece of advice for young entrepreneurs?
Be afraid, but not afraid to fail. Failure is GOOD! Be afraid to have never failed. Be afraid to look back on your life and see nothing but dead-end jobs and regrets in your past.
Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, media personality, public speaker and the most-syndicated young entrepreneurship columnist in the world. He is the founder and CEO of Gerber Enterprises and founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council. Scott is also the author of the book, Never Get a “Real” Job.
As 2010 winds down, your thoughts are probably starting to form about the coming year: What do you want to accomplish in the next 12 months? Where do you want to be at this time next year? While we’ve all tried (and often failed) setting and achieving vague New Year’s Resolutions, many people don’t have a lot of experience with true goal setting, which I define as matching your dreams with a solid plan. If you really want to accomplish things in 2011, here are some tips:
- Be honest about what you really want. In my mind, the first rule of goal setting is to make sure you are truly passionate about achieving the goals you’re setting. If, instead, you’re setting goals because you think you should travel more or your parents think you should give up your freelance career for a “real” job, then you’re not going to be very motivated. I’d rather you set and achieve one goal that truly excites and inspires you than for you to set and achieve 10 goals that aren’t authentic to who you want to be.
- Don’t be afraid to think big. In my experience, one of the biggest mistakes young professionals make is not dreaming big enough. Many people have a tendency to limit their goals unnecessarily. For instance, “I really want to go to law school, but that probably won’t work out so I’ll just look for jobs as a paralegal.” There’s nothing wrong with being realistic, but when you are setting goals, why not start by going after what you really want and then, if necessary, tweaking as you go along? As recommended by inspirational posters and greeting cards everywhere, start by asking yourself, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
- Mark dates on your calendar. Months go by very quickly, but days are long. Similarly, big goals can be daunting, but small tasks are relatively easy. As you’re goal setting, start to think through the small tasks that add up to achieving your biggest dreams. (I’ve heard this called “chunking down” your goals.) For example, if you want to find a new job by June, work backwards on your calendar and start marking in milestones that will help you achieve your goal, such as revising your resume, calling three contacts a week or pre-registering for networking events. If you want to write a book next year, mark off 30 to 60 minutes each day on your calendar for writing or research time.
- Get some help. There are some great, inexpensive books and tools to help you with goal setting large and small. Two of my favorite resources are Your Best Year Yet: Ten Questions for Making the Next Twelve Months Your Most Successful Ever and an app (for Mac, iPhone and iPad) called Things. You can also work on goal setting with a career coach, career services professional or a friend who agrees to be a goal setting buddy. While no book or app or person can force you to achieve your goals, what these resources and people can provide is accountability. When you submit to a formal, written goal setting process or ask someone to call you once a week to check on your progress, you’re more likely to stay on track.
What other goal setting tips and resources do you recommend? Have you started planning for 2011? Please share!