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How to Stay Motivated at Your Internship

by Brenna McDermot (@BrennaMcDermot)

Even though the purpose of an internship is to learn more about the job you want and to gain real-world experience, you might have an internship that you do not find interesting or worthwhile. Moreover, you might be working for a boss who only makes your job harder and less enjoyable. In these situations, it is hard to stay motivated and to keep a positive attitude, but doing just that is imperative.

First, what happens when your internship is not what you thought it was going to be? At one of my internships, I thought I was going to be doing public relations; instead, I was working in a development office creating PowerPoints and lesson plans. Initially, I was disappointed because I thought I was not going to learn anything and that the experience would be a waste of time. But the key is to know that nothing is a waste of time, especially when you purposefully look for ways to learn and grow.

When doing a task, ask yourself what part of it could apply to the field that you want to go into. For example, I had to read a 500-page book about Catholic sisters and write lesson plans for elementary school students about it. Even though I do not plan on doing that in the future, it was a great exercise in editing. I had to take a massive amount of information and choose the most important information for my audience. If your boss tells you that the amazing 1,500-word story you just wrote needs to be cut down to 250 words, do not get upset. Look at it as a challenge to write more concisely.

Next, you might work for a boss you do not get along with or who is not providing you with enough guidance. In order to not make working together a struggle, it is important to learn to pick your battles. Ask yourself if the decision to use one font over another is really an argument worth angering your boss over. Now, there are definitely situations where you should voice your opinion because it could greatly improve a project, but you should carefully make your decision to speak.

If your boss is not teaching you and giving you projects without explaining what to do or how to do them, then you need to do the best you can and find other resources in your workplace to help you. You have to find meaning for yourself in the work you are doing. If you feel like you are not learning new skills, then challenge yourself to refine your old ones. Set earlier deadlines or increase a story’s word count. Also, see this as an opportunity to learn how to work under different types of leaders. There is a good chance that in the future you might work under a boss you do not like, so use this experience to practice handling that.

Know that even if your job seems like a waste of your time, you have not peaked and can always learn more. Know that every person with whom you work knows something that you do not. As long as you are open to it, you can learn something from them.

Finally, what significantly helped me during my internship was doing The Five Minute Journal every day because it helped me focus my thoughts, be thankful for the experience and maintain a positive attitude. At the beginning of the day, write three things you are thankful for, three things that would make the day great and two self-affirmations. At the end of the day, write three things that were great about the day and two things that you could have done better. It helps you create goals and evaluate your performance. Most of all, it does two essential things: it keeps you motivated, and it keeps you positive.

After applying to and receiving an internship, it is important to do what your supervisor expects, even it if involves something you may be unfamiliar with. Being able to adapt to change can prove to employers that you have what it takes to handle anything in a fast-paced environment.

Keeping Your Opinion

by Erik Buchinger (@ImErikBuchinger)

Dating back to when I was a sports writer and editor-in-chief of the Bear Facts, the Hortonville High School student newspaper, I was taught the proper way to write news stories. After high school, I became a sports writer at the Advance-Titan, the campus newspaper at UW Oshkosh. After a semester of writing, I was promoted to assistant sports editor and then sports editor.

Thanks to my work with the Advance-Titan and help from my boss, I was able to get involved with D3baseball.com and cover the 2014 NCAA Division III World Series in Appleton. In all of these places, writing anything with opinion was deemed unacceptable under any circumstance.

Initially, I included far too many of my own thoughts and ideas in my writing, and teachers and professors would scold me saying opinions didn’t belong in news coverage. But then in August, I applied for an internship for isportsweb.com, a website that allows writers to provide stories regarding their favorite teams.

I wrote a few articles to preview the Wisconsin Badgers football team for the upcoming year. After another article, I emailed my supervisor and asked how I was doing and what I needed to improve. My boss said he wanted me to incorporate more opinion into my work.

After being taught for years that opinion is unacceptable, my boss wanted me to do what everyone told me not to do. He expressed that the website is more of an opinion format, and in order to engage more readers, I would have to let the audience know what my thoughts were on some of the hot topics about the Wisconsin football team.

I started writing articles with that approach and it really worked. In my very first article after receiving the feedback from my supervisor, I wrote what I thought about Wisconsin’s head coach Gary Andersen since he arrived in Madison. I’m sorry if you read this, Mr. Andersen, but I disagree with a lot of things you do.

As an intern with isportsweb.com, I can see what the highest page views for the day are for the website. The day after publishing my work, the top of the page views list read “Wisconsin football: Going in wrong direction.”

My article led the site in clicks because I trusted my supervisor and listened to what he had to I have been getting better with writing opinion-based articles, while also continuing what I have learned with the Advance-Titan.

Writers have to be able to adapt and learn new styles in order to last in the never-ending change in sports media.

No Pay Paves the Way

by Zach Cook

Getting an internship is one of the most important things a student can do while in school, but what happens when the internship offers little to no pay?

The trick is to not get frustrated, as unpaid internships are quite common.

You may ask why you should take an internship without pay. There are three main reasons.

Most importantly, internships offer opportunities to work in a professional environment. Interning in a field you wish to get into allows you to get a better understanding of how the industry works. Classwork and school experiences can only prepare you for so much, which is why gaining professional experience during an internship is crucial.

Secondly, interning without pay is a great way to assure yourself that you are getting into the right field. Let’s face it, if you are willing to work at a place for free and enjoy it, then you are certainly ready to get into the industry.

Finally, although you may not get paid, you are able to network and that is worth more than a $10 per hour wage. The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is extremely accurate nowadays, and as a student you must take every opportunity you get to network.

The next time you are searching for an internship, don’t automatically overlook the ones that are unpaid. Get your foot in the door and establish those relationships so when they are looking to hire someone, you are ahead of the rest. Your commitment and efforts will not go unnoticed by an employer as they search for a new employee.

Landing a Job in Your Dream City

By Geoff Garza (@SnugglyGeoff)

When students think about life after college, some dream about leaving their hometown for a big city or a warm climate. But moving out of state means that you need to find a job to live in your dream city. If you are moving to an area where you have no contacts, friends or family, it can be scary.

That is the reality every person who moves has to face, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting a task. One Oshkosh alumna made the jump from Wisconsin to Colorado and found a job right after she graduated. Taylor Prather graduated in May 2013 and found a position as an assistant account executive at Malen Yantis Public Relations. She has some advice for future graduates who want to leave the state and hit the ground running.

She said preparing early can be a huge benefit.

“I started getting my ducks in a row at the beginning of the new year for my graduation in May,” Prather said. “This means I read over my resume like a thousand times, wrote cover letters and started doing research.”

Researching where you want to live can give you insight into what you will need to do to make a smooth transition. One thing to research is how much it is going to cost to live in your new city and how much you need to make at your new job. The next step is to look into employers in that area.

There are a few ways to try to find job openings in the area. One, look on LinkedIn and search for jobs from the employers that you targeted from your research. Two, look for state-specific job boards that post jobs in your field. The third way to find jobs and internships is to look at university websites and search their career services and internship pages.

Another piece of advice that Prather offered was for students to start saving now.

“It’s very expensive to move, and if you’re doing it yourself you’ve got to be flexible,” Prather said. “My boss always said that the reason I got this job was because I was flexible.”

Preparing to move to another state may seem scary, but it can be done easily and seamlessly. With research, a well-prepared resume and flexibility, you can land a job in your dream city.

Negative Attitude of Co-Workers Towards Interns

By Darian Grosskreuz (@dgrosskreuz)

Looking for an internship? Preparation is key. Not all internships will be all that you imagined, whereas others will be much more. One thing to keep in mind when entering an internship is the potential for co-workers to display negative attitudes toward interns. If individuals find themselves in a situation such as this, there are ways to cope and deal with this.

First of all, smile. It’s a great way to make a first impression on the individuals you will be working with and it shows the employees that may be reflecting negative attitudes that it doesn’t bother you. Ever hear of, “kill them with kindness?” It works.

Second, be polite. A simple please and thank you will make you seem mature and appreciative of the internship. Oftentimes, negative attitudes toward interns stem from individuals showing the power of their position over yours. In order to alleviate this power trip, be polite to show them you respect their authority.

Third, never think you are too good for the work you are assigned. Everyone has heard the horror stories of interns filing papers for eight hours straight or answering phones while trying to make endless amount of copies. This happens within the workplace and if it happens to you embrace the simplicity of the task. The worst thing you can do is act like your skill level is way above filing papers.

Fourth, be proactive. If you find yourself in a situation where one or many employees are consistently displaying a negative attitude toward you, write down the days and times of the events that made you feel uncomfortable. There are times where you have to “suck it up” and realize you are fresh meat in the organization, but other times the negativity could be hindering your success. In this case, it’s important to realize this and be ready to take steps to alleviate the problem.

Fifth, talk it out. After you have realized a relationship with your co-worker is unhealthy, it’s time to talk about it. You have options here. You could talk specifically with the person that you have the unhealthy relationship with, a manager or higher authority, internship coordinator or human resources. All situations are different, but in most cases, it’s best to confront the co-worker first so they have a chance to enhance their attitude before going directly to the human resource department.

Sixth, report it. If you feel like you have considered all the other avenues previously discussed and nothing has changed about the situation, it’s time to go to your human resource department. Don’t be embarrassed or feel that because you are an intern, rules of proper employee conduct don’t apply to you. Keep in mind, if you don’t take the time to report these incidences, the next intern will suffer the same treatment you did.

You deserve to work in an environment that allows you to succeed and truly enhance your skills as an intern. Negative attitudes and unfair treatment can limit this growth and that’s not OK.

Remain confident, follow these tips and handle the situation in the most mature way possible.

Rock That Interview

By Victoria Horstman (@VickiHorstman)

As graduation gets closer and closer, we are constantly reminded that we’ll be making the transition from sweatpants and energy drinks to slacks and black coffee.

Before the Interview:

Research. Research. Research. Is it important that you know what’s going on with the company you’re applying for. More likely than not, employers will ask you in the interview: “So what do you know about our company?” Knowing the answers shows that you care about this position, and that you’ve taken the time to look into it. Set a Google Alert for the company to let you know anytime they’re in the news or being talked about. Write down any important questions or talking points you’d like to bring up during the interview.

Know what’s out there about you. More than likely, they’ll be doing their own research. What do your social media profiles have to say about you? Use them to exemplify your professionalism and your interests. However, refrain from posting about political and religious matters unless they pertain to your career goals.

Practice your elevator pitch to your friends and family. The more you say it out loud, the more natural it will feel in the interview. Identify your strengths and weaknesses before you go into the interview so you know how to highlight them. If they ask about a weakness you have in the workplace, follow up your answer with how you’ve been working to overcome it.

The Big Day:

Dress to impress. Dark and subtle colors tend to look more professional. If your wardrobe is a little sparse on the professional dress department, check out UWO’s Career Closet in the Career Services office.

Try to arrive 10-15 minutes early. This will give you time to take in the surroundings and get a feel for the environment. Greet your interviewer with a firm (preferably not sweaty) handshake, smile and be yourself. You should answer questions concisely (practicing your answers beforehand will help you out here) and give the employer an opportunity to follow up.

It’s totally acceptable to jot down a few notes or questions during the interview, as long as you keep it to a minimum. Eye contact and body language is extremely important. Don’t forget to use your portfolio to prove how talented you are.

As the interview comes to an end, offer your business card and ask for theirs. Ask if they would mind connecting with you on LinkedIn. If they haven’t already mentioned it, ask by when you should expect a decision. Most importantly, say thank you!

Of course you’re nervous. It’s OK! That just shows that it matters to you. Most importantly, be yourself, and be confident about it. Talk about your interests. No one wants to hire a boring workaholic. Bonus points if you find something in common with your interviewer. Chances are, they’ll remember that about you.

It’s Over

Send a thank-you note within 24 hours. Mention something unique or interesting you talked about to help them remember you. Evaluate how you did. Write down (physically on paper) what you felt good about and what you thought needed improvement. Additionally, write down any new feelings you got from the interview. Does it still seem like a good fit for you after you’ve asked those questions? Keep these in a safe place where you can look back on them for the next interview.

Good luck!

How Social Media Can Help Or Hinder You

By Nicole Kiefert (@nicole_kiefert)

Within the last 10 years, social media has become increasingly popular. What started off as a social media network created on a college campus has turned into a worldwide phenomenon. With parents and grandparents now on social media, people are being more careful about what they post. But what a lot of people don’t realize is how important it is to keep your profile appropriate for employers as well.

According to a study from careerbuilder.com, 43 percent of employers found information on candidates’ social media that caused them to not get hired. If candidates aren’t being careful, posting that tweet about a bad day at work or a scantily dressed picture, they’re also not likely to land that dream job.

Social media gives people the opportunity to share what they’re feeling, and if what they are feeling is resentment toward their boss, their job or a project they’re working on, the ability to easily share on Facebook or Twitter could be harmful. Hiring managers aren’t going to hire someone if they see a Facebook status ranting about how his or her supervisor is a jerk or the project assigned is pointless.

College has always been referred to as the best years of your life, and it’s natural to want to remember those years by taking pictures. But if those pictures reflect a side of you that you wouldn’t want employers to see, it may be best to not post them at all. Pictures in skimpy clothes or holding a bottle of alcohol may show your friends that you’re living college to the fullest, but it shows employers that you aren’t making your education a priority.

Even posting uncontroversial topics can turn off employers to you if you’re using inappropriate language or bad grammar. Chances are you won’t be getting that writing job if you can’t decipher there, their and they’re.

While there is a chance social media can hinder you during the application process, it can also help you if done correctly.

Simply being active on social media shows that you have the ability to use it, which can be an asset to employers, especially if you’re going for that social media or marketing job. But it’s not enough to just have a Twitter account and sometimes tweet from it. If you put out things that are relevant to the field you want to get into, it shows you’re already prepared.

If you’re in PR, it will help you to put out some tweet or share Facebook posts about new methods in PR to show you’re staying up-to-date with the methods. If you’re a writer, tweet about writing methods or prompts. If your dream job is being an editor, make sure your tweets are in AP Style to show just how well versed you are in it.

With the rising popularity of social media and the recent need of journalists to know how to operate social media, it’s important to know how to use it to your advantage. So post appropriately and post often, and that dream job just might be yours.

Branding Yourself

By Jake Spence (@Jake_Spence)

Setting yourself apart from other college students is very important when applying for internships or jobs. If you blend in with everyone else you probably won’t get the job, let alone an interview. Employers usually have dozens of applicants and you must stand out if you want a shot at your dream job. In the end, only the best candidate will get hired.

We’ve all been taught that a firm handshake, professional attire, and a good education are enough to make a good impression. Today, that is no longer enough. If you want to get noticed, you need to develop a personal brand. Branding yourself is very similar to branding a product; the goal is to differentiate yourself from others in order to achieve your aspirations.

Step 1: Set objectives. Without goals, you have nothing to aim for. Bridge the gap between where you are and where you’d like to be. Be specific and outline your aspirations. Research your competitors and see what they are doing to brand themselves. Use your findings as inspiration and learn from any mistakes you might find.

Step 2: Define yourself. Who are you? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Use your strengths to your advantage and stray away from your weaknesses. Employers want to know why you are better than everyone else and it is your job to tell them. Use power verbs in your résumé or during an interview to describe yourself because this shows that you have confidence in your skills. Don’t be afraid to inject personality into your brand. Remember, people want to hear about your professional side, but they also want to know if your character is a good fit for their company.

Step 3: Establish an online presence. Have you ever Googled yourself? Your potential employers will. It is important that the search results are conveying the right message. A large online presence is beneficial, but only if your content is appropriate. If you don’t want your grandmother to see it, you won’t want your potential employer to see it either. It is a good idea to create your own website or blog with your name as the domain (ex: http://www.yourname.com). Not only will this set you apart from others, but it will also allow you to have control over what people find when they search for you. At the bare minimum, make sure you have a LinkedIn profile that is up-to-date and professional.

Step 4: Network. Connect with other young professionals in your desired field. Take advantage of social networking and create relationships. Get your foot in the door with an internship. Join clubs that you are interested in and attend job fairs. Networking is one of the best ways to become recognized. This will help your personal brand grow for the long run.

Step 5: Stay clear and consistent. Draw the line between who you are and who you are not. Do not lie or “sugar-coat” your qualifications. Your brand should honestly represent you as you are. The way people perceive you online should match the way you present yourself in person. Make sure your image is consistent across all mediums. Your résumé, portfolio and social media accounts should all have a similar look and feel.

Step 6: Get feedback. Ask your friends and family what they think of your personal brand. Look for honest opinions from the people who know you best. It never hurts to have an extra set of eyes on things.

 




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