Searching for Hidden Internships

How is an internship search like an Easter egg hunt? 

Some of the best ones are hidden!  The ones in plain sight are easy to spot, but everyone can see them and they get snatched up just as quickly.  What are you doing to find hidden internships?

It has been speculated and research supports that up to 80% of job openings are filled without being advertised, and the same principle holds true for internships.  Why is this number so high? Oftentimes, an employer knows where to find a candidate through their own professional networks.  They may find the right candidate through a colleague or former intern.  The organization might have ties to the college’s career center and academic departments to locate students with matching qualifications.  The next question becomes: who knows you’re looking for an internship?

Internships can also be somewhat hidden on the organization’s website.  The most logical place for internships is on a company’s careers website, but this is not always the case.  Due to the changing nature of hiring jobs and interns, positions on the website may be outdated or a careers page may be nonexistent.  Another place to check is the “About Us” page.  In nonprofit organizations, internships are often listed under volunteer opportunities.

You can also utilize the website’s search option to find internships.  A simple Google search for the organization’s name and your internship search keywords can yield results that don’t appear on the company’s website.  Even if the post is outdated, it never hurts to inquire about future opportunities!

Tips to ‘cracking’ the hidden internship search:

  • Attend career fairs like the upcoming GACE College-to-Career Fair in Atlanta
  • Vary your search strategies through networking and internet searches
  • Utilize Career Connection at www.myinterfase.com/gcsu/student — organizations that want GC students post with us!
  • Build your network through attending professional association events
  • Conduct informational interviews to make connections and learn about possible openings
  • Inquire directly to the organization about opportunities.  Hint: don’t simply ask, “Do you have internships?” Try to lead with open-ended questions to get the conversation moving!
  • Write a letter of interest that directly relates your qualifications, accomplishments, and career interests to what you can accomplish as their intern.

Intern with SouthernCare Hospice

November is National Hospice Month, and we’re featuring internships and volunteer opportunities with SouthernCare Hospice in Macon.

SouthernCare, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest hospice providers. SouthernCare is a privately owned company that has over 75 offices in 15 states and provides care to over 3000 patients each day. The organization provides services to patients who reside in private homes, group homes, assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities.

SouthernCare Hospice is looking for interns and volunteers to serve in the Macon/Middle Georgia area. Volunteers and interns perform a variety of tasks as needed with hospice patients, which may include reading, visiting, running errands, and working with families.  Enthusiastic and compassionate students with an interest in working with people are a good fit for internship and volunteer positions with SouthernCare.

Want more information? Link to internship in Career Connection: http://bit.ly/rH1Emf

Ending your internship on a positive note

You’ve probably heard the phrase “it’s a small world” with regards to networking—everyone knows someone and you’ll never know who at your internship will be able to recommend you for your next big opportunity or transition.  Here are some tips as you complete your summer internship.

Show gratitude

Put this at the top of your to-do list!  Your internship supervisor and others spent time training you, answering your questions, and providing opportunities for learning and networking.  Say thank you in some way, whether it’s spoken, written, or some type of appreciation gift.  Even a simple thank you note will be appreciated.  Consider taking your supervisor out for lunch or coffee to show your appreciation and have a positive conversation to wrap-up your internship experience.

 Tie up loose ends

Leave your workspace in an organized manner.  Finish any projects you started and things you’ve been putting off.  Leaving things complete and informing your supervisor about your progress on projects can help leave a good impression.

 Listen to feedback

Use the positive and constructive feedback you’ve received to reflect and grow professionally from the experience.  Also, don’t be too hard on yourself (remember the phrase “you’re your own worst critic? Same rule applies).  Accept the ways you can improve in the future and congratulate yourself on your accomplishments.

 Collect information and stay in touch

Collect business cards from the people you’ve met during your internship, or if you already have their information, make sure it’s in your address book.  It’s appropriate to check-in with your former supervisor or co-workers and update them on your professional activity—just remember that networking is a two-way street!

 Talk to others about your future plans

Informing people of your plans helps them to keep an eye out for opportunities that are a good fit for you.  People you’ve met and worked with during your internship can help connect you to others in the field, especially if they know what you’re looking for (and don’t have to guess).

 Ask for references/letters of recommendation

If you are going to ask someone to be a reference, ask the person if she/he can provide a positive reference for you.  If you know an employer is checking your references, let him or her know to expect a call.  Letters of recommendation are also positive testaments to your skills, and it’s best to ask now when the experience is fresh in people’s minds.  Ask for LinkedIn recommendations, too—they’re an effective way for someone to give a snapshot of your skills and abilities.

 Leave on good terms

Never burn bridges.  Leaving on good terms means showing appreciation, having a positive attitude, finishing what you’ve started, and saying only positive things about the organization and your co-workers.

  Spread the word!

They need an intern, and if not right now, then they will later.  You know Georgia College students.  One way to give back to your site is to help them find their next awesome intern!  Talk to the University Career Center, current students, and faculty members to help them locate another intern.  You don’t have to do everything, but just spreading the word can go a long way.

 Hint: Send internship descriptions to the Internship Coordinator to get them posted on Career Connection!

Reflect on what you’ve learned

Think about what you’ve accomplished during your internship.  When did you feel the most productive? Who did you meet?  What would you change, if anything, about your position for the next go-round (whether it’s a job or another internship).  Internships teach hands-on skills, but they also teach you about your own work preferences.

 

Using your internship to locate a full-time job

It can be challenging to navigate an internship and a full-time job search at the same time.  Some organizations are able to connect their internship program to recruiting new full-time hires, but not all organizations have the size, open opportunities, and funding available to do so.  The following tactics can help you utilize your internship to locate a full-time position.

 Keep your ears open

Listen for news of meetings, projects, initiatives, and transitions within the organization (and other organizations). You’ll learn about opportunities for networking and, if you listen, the needs of the organization and ways you can make yourself essential during the internship.

 Make yourself essential

Make them think “how did we ever manage without our intern?”  Find your niche at the organization by evaluating what skills, knowledge, and abilities you bring to the table.  Not sure? Bring it up with your supervisor and coworkers. Some skills and abilities interns contribute include, but are not limited to: a fresh perspective, computer skills, and social media marketing skills.  You may also make yourself essential by locating a need that the current staff is not able to complete due to time constraints and address it during your internship.

Treat your internship like a job interview

The headline says it all—complete tasks to the best of your ability, treat people with respect, and be open and inquisitive.  Your internship is an extended opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism, time management, orientation to detail, communication skills, and other abilities.

 Collect contact information and USE IT

What good is collecting a business card or a person’s contact information if you don’t use it?  Touch base with the professionals you meet during your internship, especially if their career path closely mirrors your interests.  Find a logical reason to contact or reconnect with someone, whether it’s during or after your internship.

Talk to people outside of your group

Networking and asking the people you work with on a daily basis is beneficial, but network with people outside of your ’group’ when the opportunity arises.  This includes people from other offices, people from another organization with a similar job function, professional organizations, community partners, and the list goes on.  Diversity in your network is good, and will help you accomplish more in your job search!

Don’t just network– nurture your relationships. 

People can tell the difference between genuine interest and being used purely for professional gain.  Networking is a bidirectional relationship for everyone involved.  Nurture your contacts by staying in touch with them and showing interest in their goals, especially if you can help them in some way.  Also, remembering the little things (e.g., their pet, latest hobby, etc.) can help you build rapport.  You might be surprised at how quickly they’re willing to help you!  Offer to treat a new connection to coffee or lunch to discuss career advice.

Ask for information and not a job.

Talk about your future plans and ask people for advice.  This will accomplish two things—you’ll receive valuable career advice from people who’ve been there, done that, and you will have spread the information that you are job searching.  Networking is as much about who knows you as much as it is who you know.  People are generally flattered when asked for advice, and they will likely pass your name on to others should the opportunity arise.  Asking for job opening information puts people on-the-spot for information they may not have and gives them the impression you’re only after one thing.

Update and polish your resume

You never know when someone will request your resume, especially after you’ve practiced networking at your internship.  Your internship is a big professional boost to your resume and experience, and you will need to revise your resume for your updated skills and abilities.  In addition, your career focus may have changed slightly since the beginning of your internship.  Revise it sooner than later, just in case the opportunity arises!  You can politely ask for your supervisor to review your resume for her/his advice on its presentation and distribution.  Work on your resume on your own time though, and not on the clock at your internship.

Ways to get MORE from your internship

If you intern right, you’ll never be bored! Here are some tips to get more from your internship, especially as you become more comfortable at your site and in your role.  The key is to be proactive.

Just ask.

Is there a meeting you would like to sit in and observe?  An extra project you would like to complete?  Just ask.  Your internship supervisor will be impressed at your initiative, given that you’re completing your current internship tasks in a thorough and timely manner.  Even if you cannot sit in on that meeting, you supervisor will be aware that you’re interested and might give you other opportunities to network with those people or learn the same information.

Go above and beyond.

Completing tasks to the best of your ability is a great way to show your supervisor and coworkers that you’re ready for more responsibility.  In addition, finishing tasks early will communicate that you are ready for another task or more responsibility.  It can be easy for interns to slip into procrastination techniques if they have ample time to complete tasks, which can also prevent them from making the most of the internship experience.

Be open and enthusiastic.

As you know by now, interns never have the same day twice!  You’re often asked to fill in where needed and have several opportunities to step outside your professional comfort zone.  Accepting these tasks with an open mind and enthusiasm will do two things: demonstrate your maturity and professionalism to your supervisor while at the same time expanding your professional skill set.  Your attitude during your internship will make a lasting impression which can recommend you for full-time opportunities long after it’s over.

 

Network, and keep your ears open for networking opportunities.

Networking at your internship shouldn’t be confined to your supervisor and coworkers, but should include other interns, people from other departments or organizations, clients, etc.  Locate a professional you admire during your internship and offer to take him or her out for lunch or coffee to learn more about their career path and learn their advice for you.  You may ask your supervisor for additional suggestions of contacts whose career paths are similar to your interests.  Keep in mind that networking is not 100% about the number of contacts you have, but also the quality of the professional relationship between yourself and the people in your network.

 

Join LinkedIn, if you have not already.

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) has been dubbed “the professional’s Facebook.”  From the website, LinkedIn “connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.” LinkedIn is especially valuable for you as you build your professional network and create a professional online presence.  You can use LinkedIn to connect with and stay in touch with people you meet through your internship.  Go to http://learn.linkedin.com/students/ for a great video example of how a student used LinkedIn to locate a job.

Ask for advice and feedback.

One of the many great things about internships is that you have an opportunity to openly ask questions about your career path and your next job.  You can get valuable advice about what you need to do to stand out from the candidate pool in your job search.  There’s nothing wrong with openly asking for career advice, as long as it is done tactfully.  Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask what additional skills and knowledge you need to develop to be poised for that full-time job.

Common Challenges for Interns

Internships are not without their own bumps in the road!  I’m going to cover some concerns that many interns struggle with.  However, keep in mind that all of the solutions to these common internship challenges involve talking to your supervisor and being proactive.  Your supervisor will not know what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing until you tell him or her.  He or she will have feedback for you and practical advice for how to proceed.  You can take advantage of the wealth of experience of your supervisor and coworkers.  Don’t be intimidated to talk to your supervisor about the things that challenge you, because they are there to help.

When you do bring up issues and concerns it is smart to do so in an appreciative, direct way (remember the adage “it’s not what you say but how you say it”).

 Help!  I’m overwhelmed!

If you’re overwhelmed at your internship site, try to determine the main cause.  Do you have efficient time management skills?  Are the tasks themselves too challenging?  Are the tasks manageable, but there are too many of them? Determine if you have the time, resources, and knowledge (or knowledge available to you) to match your internship responsibilities and goals.  Once you’ve determined the cause, address your supervisor in a polite, respectful way and let her or him know what you’re experiencing and ask for advice.  The two of you should be able to determine a solution together.

My tasks aren’t challenging.

Interns are often given simple tasks as they learn the ‘lay of the land’ in the organization. This knowledge is valuable when you gain more responsibility and accomplish more complicated goals.  If you feel as though your tasks are mundane or not challenging enough, first make a conscious effort to complete all of your internship tasks in a timely manner and to the best of your ability.  Your demonstrated competence and initiative helps to build trust and will send your supervisor the message that you are ready for gained responsibility.  In addition, take the initiative to brainstorm projects ideas that interest you and also have a positive impact on the organization’s goals.  Meet with your supervisor and tell him/her some of your ideas.   It’s also important to review the goals you agreed upon as stated in your internship learning agreement.  Do the goals match up?  If not, politely bring it to your internship supervisor’s attention.  If they do and you’re still bored, it might be time to agree on additional goals.

 I don’t know how I’m doing.

The transition from student to intern can also be challenging in terms of feedback.  Students receive frequent reminders of their academic performance through grades, but feedback regarding performance in the workplace is a bit different.  All internship supervisors give feedback differently both in manner and frequency.  The simple and direct way to address being unsure of your performance is to simply ask your supervisor for specific feedback. Make sure to set up a meeting time with your supervisor that fits both of your schedules.  If the two of you have a regular meeting time you may also simply address your concern then.  Use the supervisor midterm evaluation form as an opportunity to receive feedback and identify areas for growth.

Accept any feedback you receive with an open mind and positive attitude.  If in case your supervisor gives you general positive feedback (“you’re doing great!”), ask for specific examples.  It’s important to explore areas for improvement in addition to your strengths.  The more you work on developing those areas, the more prepared you will be for your first full-time position.

Tips for internship success

Navigating your internship successfully is all about balancing responsibilities, forming professional relationships, learning new skills, and managing a schedule and task list, just to name a few.  Below are a few tips for internship success that will help you impress others and become a better intern in the process.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even those related to your career.
  • Take time to learn as much about your internship site as possible.
  • Set specific goals for yourself that will challenge you.
  • Keep a planner (electronic or paper) to help you stay on-task.
  • Complete your projects and duties to the best of your ability in a timely manner.
  • Maintain an organized workspace.
  • Be proactive and use down time for projects (and not email or social media).
  • Be flexible when several things are asked of you and when plans change unexpectedly.
  • Be respectful of all coworkers, including other interns and administrative assistants.
  • Take constructive criticism with a positive attitude.
  • Celebrate your successes, and learn from your mistakes.
  • Take advantage of the wealth of information available to you through your coworkers.