Tag Archives | intern

Image by Rob Bye, unsplash.com

I interned at a law office this summer in Fort Worth, Texas. Not just any law office, but one that represents people accused of crimes. That, in and of itself, made it interesting and exciting. Even though I didn’t get to do a lot of legal work (unless taking documents to the courthouse counts), it was a worthwhile experience. I tried to soak it all in and, in the process, hopefully took away some valuable life lessons. Here are seven eye-opening things I learned interning at a law office this summer.

  1. You have no idea what you are doing. No intern truly knows what to expect going into an internship. You don’t know if you will be someone’s assistant, if you will be aiding on an important project, or if you will just be getting coffee and making copies. You are venturing into completely new territory. The key is to go in with an open mind and a good attitude. The bulk of my time at the law firm of Varghese Summersett was actually spent working alongside the media relations director on various projects. An internship is all about learning, so even if you don’t know how to do something at first, by the end of the summer you’ll be surprised at the things you’ve accomplished. This summer I helped edit an e-book, worked on legal directory link building, and tried my hand at writing law blogs – including one about abuse of a corpse. Never saw that coming.
  2. Your bosses aren’t as scary as you think they are. I don’t know who started the stereotype that bosses are supposed to be mean, but 8 times out of 10, they aren’t. This is also true of attorneys. Contrary to what some people may think, bosses are not here to make your life miserable or to bark orders. They are here to guide you and to teach you and, hopefully, they get something in return. When you are an intern, you never feel like you completely fit in the office. You aren’t technically a real employee, but you still work in the office like everyone else. Being intimidated will get you nowhere and make your internship unpleasant. Everyone is there to help you learn the field you are working in and assist you in expanding your mind.
  3. Make friends with the other interns. No one wants to go to work for eight hours and not have a single person to talk to. Not only will making friends make the time more enjoyable, it will also be a useful tool to use throughout your internship. Fortunately, there were several other interns working at the law firm this summer. Several were in law school. Two, like me, were undergrads. One was a senior in high school. Rest assured, many of the other interns also have no idea what they are doing. You can use each other to help navigate through your work — maybe one of them knows how to do something you don’t? Now, I am not saying you’ve got to become best friends with them, but it helps to have someone to talk to during the slow parts of the day, someone to help you figure out what your boss just assigned you to do, someone to bounce ideas off of when you are totally lost, and someone to grab a quick lunch with when you need to get out of the office.
  4. Always check your email. Email is the main source of communication in a fast-paced office environment. People do not have time to get up from their desks and walk to the other side of the office when they need to ask a quick question. Your email is your life line. It is the thing that your boss will use 90 percent of the time to give you a task. So, if you don’t check it you could miss something — and that WILL make your boss scary.
  5. Dress appropriately. Depending on what type of business you are working for, there is a certain way you are expected to dress. It could be casual where you can wear jeans and a blouse, it could be business casual where you can wear a dress and flats, or it could be business professional where you must wear dress pants and a jacket. Since my internship was at a law office, the dress code was business attire. It is your responsibility to find out what kind of attire is expected BEFORE you start your internship. The two most important things I learned this summer when it comes to dressing for a job are:
    1. if you are wearing heels, always have a pair of flats in your bag
    2. it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  6. Don’t be scared to ask questions. Most of the time you are going to be doing something completely new to you. It’s okay not to know how to do something. What’s not okay is if you mess it up because you were too afraid to ask for help. You cannot learn without asking questions. Also, don’t think you are bothering your supervisor by asking questions. They would rather be interrupted for five minutes for a question than spend two hours fixing something you did wrong. Everyone has to start somewhere.
  7. You get out what you put in. You are ultimately the one who decides if your internship was a waste of time or a valuable experience. If you come to work every day skating by doing the bare minimum, then what was the point of getting an internship in the first place? You aren’t only wasting your time but the time of the people who have tried to teach you and work with you. However, if you put forth the effort to step out of your comfort zone, your internship will be a great opportunity. The things you discover doing an internship can be very useful and insightful. Maybe you discover something you are passionate about and want to pursue, or maybe you find that this isn’t the right field for you. Both can be very beneficial in choosing your career path. No matter what you learn from your internship, the only way for you to make it a rewarding experience is to put forth the effort and give it all you’ve got.

This article was contributed by guest author Karlee Mansfield, a sophomore at the University of Mississippi, where she is majoring in finance. She interned this summer at Varghese Summersett PLLC, a criminal defense firm based in Fort Worth, Texas. She is interested in becoming a lawyer one day.

Image by Samuel Mann, Flickr

Image by Samuel Mann, Flickr

Brace yourselves, because the internships are coming! We all know it’s a jungle out there and most of you are confused about what to do when preparing for your first intern position. But, as always, we are here to help with that.

This article will take you by the hand to show you the most important things you should have in mind when undergoing an internship.

Before we present the most popular internship tips from top companies, let’s take a little respite and talk about why someone would want to apply for such a position in the first place.

One of the essential reasons why many people choose to apply for an internship at a company is because they have no idea where they stand career-wise. It would be an understatement to say that choosing your career is a harsh and nerve-consuming process. This is why it is imperative to know what to look for and what industries or departments are best suited for your particular skillset.

Let’s say you’re dying to work at Ikea, but you’re not quite sure what position you might be suited for. This is where an internship comes in. If you’ve researched all the best options to get your foot in the door and discovered that you’re not yet qualified for any of their job openings, you can try your luck with an internship position and get better insight on the exact area where you might contribute.

Performing a three-month internship helps you discover a company’s internal structure, find out what each department does and gives you a better perspective on the type of position you might be suited for in the long run.

Furthermore, this type of experience will look great on your resume and could give you a major career boost when trying to secure a full-time job.

Now, without further ado, here are the five best tips suited for interns.

1. Make it a learning experience

Before starting out on your first day as an intern, make sure to find out everything there is to know about the company’s profile and activity. Search for all available information regarding their values and objectives, their products or services, the organizational culture and the methods they use to promote themselves.

Regardless of the department where you will be interning, this will help you make a positive impression on your supervisor and also help you come up with an accurate approach for the tasks that you will be performing.

Make sure to constantly ask questions and keep learning throughout your entire internship, as this will serve you greatly not only in your activity as an intern, but also later on, when you will be securing a full-time position.

2. Organize your tasks

As a newbie, you’ll probably have a rough time adjusting to your position’s requirements. Every so often, many employers have come to realize that interns quit after a brief period of time because they feel like their workload is overwhelming.

Probably the most sound advice anyone can give you is to learn how to prioritize your tasks. Prioritization doesn’t mean that you will leave something for later and eventually forget the whole deal. Use the spare time you have to review your tasks.

It would also be a good idea to keep a planner nearby. If you’re not the pen and paper type, then you can use a mobile tool. Start with the urgent tasks or with the hard ones, leaving the easy ones for later.

On the subject of planning ahead, you should also ask your supervisor about the deadlines of each project. For example, if a simple project has a distant deadline, you can leave it aside for now and focus on other projects.

Bear in mind that the ability to prioritize is one of the things your employer uses for your evaluation. Acing this one will definitely increase your chances of staying in the company.

Also, keep in mind that your employer wants to see how you work under stress. There are things you could try to relieve some of the pressure felt at work.

3. Dress for success

Bear in mind that the company has a code for everything, including for how you dress. So, if you decide to show up for work wearing flip-flops or a heavy cleavage, you’ll probably transmit a signal that you’re not serious about the commitment.

Research the company’s policy in this regard, but also look around the office to see how people are dressing for the job. If it’s the type of company where everyone is wearing T-shirts and jeans, then you’re probably not going to want to show up for work in a corporate suit and a red necktie. Make an effort to blend in with the rest of the crowd, without necessarily losing your personal style.

4. Ask for a clear list of responsibilities

Most of the time interns are there to help full-time employees. It’s probably a bad idea to dream about ample projects or responsibilities. Bear in mind that as an intern you will probably have to perform menial tasks like photocopying documents, fetching files and even making coffee for the CEO.

Whatever your tasks may be, just be sure to have a clear idea on what is required of you and leave very little room for doubts or vagueness in this regard. If you are unsure about a specific instruction, ask your direct supervisor for further clarification. He/she might be busy with more pressing issues, but at the end of the day, they will look favorably upon your discipline and your sense of responsibility.

5. Ask for feedback

From time to time, ask your employer for feedback. Ask him/her about where you stand, how you fared so far and if there is any room for improvement. Expect some constructive criticism from him or her.

Don’t be discouraged if your employer said that your performance was poor. Instead, look for intelligent ways to improve your work. You might try asking you co-workers for help if you can’t find a satisfactory solution by yourself.

Keep in mind that they also have work to do, so, it will probably be a good idea not to assault them with too many questions.

One last thing: keep in mind that each feedback can impact us in different ways. There are many studies out there who proved that there is indeed a link between intern feedback and overall productivity.

For someone who has just stepped out of university and has no real work experience, an internship can be a challenging and rather daunting notion. The learning process may not be easy – it might even be a competitive environment – but as long as you follow the five tips outlined in this article, you will stand a very good chance of landing a favorable review or – fingers crossed – an offer to join the company full-time.

This article was contributed by guest author Amanda Wilks.

"All I want for Xmas is an unpaid internship in accounting." Image by Newtown graffiti, flickr.

“All I want for Xmas is an unpaid internship in accounting.” Image by Newtown graffiti, flickr.

In most industries, it seems there are more applicants than available positions for full-time jobs. What differentiates the successful hires? Although there are many factors, a solid way to get ahead is to build up work experience. Volunteer positions, active engagement with non-academic organizations on campus, and internships are great ways for college students to start.

The Oxford English dictionary defines an intern as “a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification.” My favourite part of the definition is “work sometimes without pay”. This is becoming increasingly common in today’s economy, but the undisputed benefit is the amount of experience gained. There is quite a bit of speculation about the legality of college students and new graduates working as unpaid interns, especially those who put in 40-50 hours per week, while holding weekend jobs that pay just enough to cover their cell phone bills and the next month’s bus pass.

The laws of supply and demand in the full-time workforce also apply to internships; moreso for paid positions. The movie The Internship, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, pokes fun at how competitive it is to land an internship at one of the world’s largest tech companies.

Don’t get discouraged. If you’re reading this article, you’re already a step ahead of the competition. Congratulations on your initiative! Here are the best places to start your hunt for an internship:

  1. Through Niche Websites like TalentEgg
  2. When you think of online videos, I’m sure you think of YouTube. When you think of the online internship hunt, you should be thinking of TalentEgg. The number one online job board for students and new graduates, it should be on your radar throughout your job hunt.

  3. Through your College/University Career Centre
  4. If your academic program doesn’t include an internship option, you should visit the Career Centre. Just as entrepreneurs head to banks to get funding for their businesses, employers head to Career Centres to find new talent for their organizations.

  5. Through your own Network
  6. What if your friend is the brother-in-law’s cousin of the hiring manager for the internship position you so badly want? It seems like a long shot, but according to the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. That means a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. Your internship search can and should start with speaking to your own friends and family.

  7. Through your Professor/Instructor
  8. Your instructors not only have industry knowledge – they also have a wealth of industry contacts. Whether they work outside your university or not, it’s worth getting to know your professors and feeling out any connections they may have.

  9. Through Professional Organizations
  10. Chances are a group of experienced people in your desired industry comes together several times a year to exchange ideas and insight about their industry. These groups are looking to educate and mentor the future practitioners of their trade. Get in touch with them and try to attend open events or conferences they host.

You can’t go wrong if you start with these five places on your search for an internship. Make sure when you apply, you follow these basic resume tips to give yourself a great shot at being accepted!