In an Anthropology class at California State University last semester, a professor was teaching about power dynamics. Each student made a list of the people who have power over us. Then, we made a list of power we have over others. In every instance where a person has power over us, we have power over them as we are giving them power. For example, in a classroom, the professor holds power as it is his job to conduct the class, but the students have power as well. They have power in numbers. They can get the professor fired if they feel the instructor is being disrespectful, dishonest, unprofessional or what have you. As we head into internships this summer, paid and unpaid, let us remember the dynamics of power.
Many companies, especially large corporations, have been accused of taking advantage of interns. Sending students off on coffee runs day after day without any interest in helping them grow in their professional lives is not an unpaid internship; that is an errand boy. It is true that we all need to start somewhere. Be sure to know and see the difference between starting at the bottom and getting taken advantage of. It is up to you to decide whether you are being treated fairly, no one will do this for you.
Some unpaid internships are worth your time and energy if you are honing your skills and learning under experts. To be sure that you are not wasting your time, be sure to ask your future employer what exactly your responsibilities will be. Being asked to take lunch orders is a red flag. Answering phones however, is a task that falls under the “do what you have to do to get started” category.
There are early signs that can indicate if an internship is going to kick start your career or turn you into a barista. How long does it take for the company to contact you? If you ask your future boss a question, a month should not go by before you figure an answer. On the same note, do not expect the world to stop what they are doing to cater to your every beck and call.
A word on payment: do not be fooled by the words “paid internship.” Paid internship does not necessarily mean well-paid internship. It is like when you see those sales racks in the mall of things $5 and up. Theoretically, they can put a $50 tee shirt there and not be lying. Will you be getting hourly pay, making commission, per article or per whatever it is that you will be producing? Will you be getting paid as a stipend at the end, receive monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly payments? These are all important questions to ask when speaking with a future employer.
Sometimes after the internship begins, red flags arise. Do you constantly feel as though you are being talked down upon? Do you feel the people you are working with have any interest in helping you? Don’t get me wrong; the person you are interning for is not a Guru, a teacher, nor a babysitter, but they should show some interest in helping you learn the ropes, especially to start.
If you feel as though you are getting mistreated, your first step toward solving the problem should be taking a deep breath. Not much good comes from anger. Talk with someone you trust to figure out if you are being played or need to suck it up and get to work. Once you have decided that you need to talk with your boss, you then need to choose how to do so.
If your check is late, a polite email is appropriate. If you feel you are being disrespected or degraded in some way, an eight-page text is not the way to go. Ask for a meeting with your boss. Calmly explain your situation. Be sure to have a plate full of moxie before you sit him or her down as it will be one of those times in your life where you almost pee your pants. Deep breath, talk calmly but make your point clear.
Let’s try to fix things before we blow them up, although if you come into problem after problem or feel completely disrespected, be sure to do what is best for you. It is easy to get wrapped up doing what’s best for others, and generally you are ultimately benefitting, but remember that if your not happy yourself, you won’t be able to please anyone else.
Creating a resume is the biggest wake up call of your life. Not only do you have to think of all the responsibilities you had—or didn’t have—at your last internship, but you need to find a way to stand out. Especially when writing a resume for the very first internship you’re applying for and the only work you’ve ever known is a good old fast food restaurant, it might be tempting to embellish or even lie. While you certainly have to sell yourself and prove to the potential employer that you can get the job done and done well, there are lots of tips and tricks to keep in mind when crafting your resume.
Most importantly, you have to tell the truth. Think of yourself as Pinocchio. Sure, embellishing your duties here and there might seem like no biggie. This particular interviewer might not call up your references and ask. That added skill that you don’t really have might not be needed for this job…but what if they do call? What if that skill’s needed? Adding to your resume might help get you an interview—or even the gig—but at the end of the day, it isn’t worth it. Knowing you lied might trip you up during the interview, especially if they call into question what you wrote (not that they’ll think you’re lying necessarily, they just need to know more sometimes). Honesty is really the best policy for jobs.
If you don’t have a lot of experience or feel like a particular internship didn’t give you a lot of responsibilities, don’t sweat it. Resumes should be limited to one page. Honestly, we’re in college—if you have that much more than a page worth of stuff to tell in a resume, I applaud you. Stick to the most relevant experiences you’ve had. Even if it was an award you won in high school or a major accomplishment, it can stay on—though eventually you’ll cut those things off as you grow in experience and more related qualifications. Instead of lying to fill out your one page, you can also discuss classes you’ve taken that are pertinent to the position. If you want to be a web design intern, add on your web design class. But also be weary of tacking on your whole schedule. Be choosy about what you list on your resume, and keep the unrelated or unhelpful off the page if possible.
In addition to being choosy about the positions you include, you have to be choosy about how you sell yourself. Your interviewer wants to get to know you—but in a work-based sense. Meaning keep your life story out of your resume! If you had a life changing trip to another country, great for you. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the page (unless you can add “speaks Italian” to your skill set or gained some kind of related experience while abroad). You don’t need to include a head shot, your random hobbies or even your likes about a particular internship. These things can come up in the interview—if they’re worthwhile—and that kind of talk can be saved for in-person.
The resume is all about the basics: who’d you work with, where did you work , when were you working there, what did you do there with a touch of why you’re qualified for the new position you’re interviewing for. For every internship or job you list, make sure to include all those details. Have at least three bullets for each describing—with action verbs, like “Researched this” and “Wrote that”–some, if not all, of your responsibilities. Include a skills section for specialties, like Adobe InDesign or html or any languages you may know. Don’t forget to have a section for your education, not just the school but possibly your GPA, if you’re on the dean’s list or anything that helps you stand out. You can also have an honors and awards section, which may include scholarships, any awards you’ve won, or any mentions of excellence. Every accomplishment, no matter how seemingly trivial, counts and can make the difference between you and another applicant.
At the end of the day, a resume is a sheet of paper. Yes, it is important and yes, you should spend the time and energy to make it look and sound nice and professional. But you in person is worth more than you on paper. So don’t sweat it if you don’t have any awards to your name or your skill set appears limited. Put yourself out there, let your personality shine in your interviews and don’t just let your resume do the talking.
After a long semester at school, it’s important to reward yourself! Congratulations! You did it! Class after class, roommate drama after drama, and somehow you made it out alive. It’s almost hard to believe that a whole semester passed. Now it’s summer and you have a few choices. You can either spend the next few months “winding down” and rejuvenating. Or, you take a breather, rest up, and spend your summer working, saving up, or getting ready for the next semester—trust me, it will be here before you know it!
So how do you decide when break time is over? You survived your classes and a break is obviously in order. You need to veg out and watch a little tv, raid the fridge and see your friends. But when should you roll out of bed and get back to business? And how can you make the best of summer, combining the best of both worlds—fun and productivity?
I have a mental checklist to keep my summer moving. It keeps me honest and helps remind me that even though I would love to spend every waking hour sun bathing by the pool, it might not be the most practical thing for me!
I would recommend making a list of the different things you want to accomplish this summer—think of it as a bucket list of sorts. It will help you prioritize and highlight the areas you need to focus on this summer.
You don’t have to follow this list, but here are a few ideas.
Do something for yourself. I call this the “Pool time regime”. My guilty summer pleasure is hanging out at the pool. It gives me a chance to relax, gather my thoughts, and of course, soak up a few rays! (Don’t forget your SPF!) Your summer getaway doesn’t have to involve water, in fact, you don’t have to getaway at all! Just make sure to schedule a little time for yourself so you can regroup and recharge from the semester.
Next, get a job. It can be painting, or mowing the lawn. You can sell lemonade, or ice cream. Be a lifeguard, sell shoes. Whatever it is, just do it. Summer is a great time to relax, but no one needs THAT much time to do nothing. Dust off your resume, put on something nice and go searching. Maybe you want to do an internship, or a co-op. Or maybe you want to stay low-key—I’m not joking, a lemonade stand in the right climate has huge potential! Just make sure you don’t spend all summer trying to perfect a body imprint on your couch. A part time job will give you the freedom to make your own money, stay busy during the day, and if you’re lucky—time off at night to hang out with you friends and family! It doesn’t sound thrilling, I know, but it really shouldn’t be optional. Future employers will look at your resume—if not this summer, then soon. They will ask you about the gaps in employment and you might want to prepare a better answer than, “well I felt like the pool was more fun!”, I wanted to try that, but everyone advised me against it so I’m passing the memo on to you!
Third on your bucket list: Family Time! I don’t know about you, but I miss my family a lot during the year. I decided to go out of state for college. I only go home a few times a year. When summer rolls around I’m thrilled to see my family! It can seem boring going home—You’re in college now, obviously a “real” adult! But don’t take these brief visits for granted. Before you know it you will be a senior in college ready to move out on your own and all you’ll want is a home cooked meal and fresh laundry. It may knock you down a few pegs on the freedom ladder when you go home for summer—yes, now you have to actually let your mom know you won’t be home until 2 A.M.! But, enjoy it while you can.
The last tidbit of advice I have for you to keep your summer feeling great is to work out. Don’t let the hot weather and smaller clothes fool you. You still have to keep moving and stay active if you want to stay in shape. Make sure you are drinking water and getting enough exercise. It will make you happy and keep you feeling good. Summer tends to be a “lazy” season for some college co-eds, don’t let that be you! Play outside, take a walk, jump rope, or swim laps! Staying active will not only benefit your body, but will keep on track for when school starts up again.
Summer will come and go before you know it! Make sure you are keeping busy and doing more than just watching summer reruns. If you stay busy and make the most of your time off, you may surprise yourself with what you can accomplish!
I’m reading Prealgebra
Scenario number one: I need a job! Money is tight for most all college students. If you have time to work but are worried you won’t be able to find a job in your new town, don’t be! I moved from Iowa to Omaha and I wanted a job more than anything. You have to be proactive. I went around to various stores and introduced myself to many managers. I filled out numerous applications and sure enough, quickly got multiple interviews. The key is to look for a job right at the beginning of the school year. Most part time jobs have seasonal workers who maybe live in your college town but go to school elsewhere. When these employees to away to school, they need people to fill their shoes fast during the school year, it’s perfect! Be confident and go get em!
Scenario number two: Homework overload! College is interesting because although you will suddenly have an abundance of free time, you will also find yourself with insane amounts of homework. If you put two and two together, do your homework in your free time! I know it doesn’t sound like the most fun to use your free time for your studies, but it will benefit you. If you use time between classes or at lunch to study, you can use your evenings to relax. I’ve found myself mastering the art of getting everything done early in the day or afternoon; it’s so nice to be able to relax when dinner time rolls around.
Scenario number three: I got dumped! I know the initial thing to do after being dumped is going to one extreme or the other. Either you don’t eat or you eat the whole pantry. Either you don’t sleep or you sleep your life away. Either you don’t work out or you never stop. Point is, neither extreme is healthy. College brings change that sometimes high school relationships or summer flings can’t handle. If you find yourself suddenly riding solo, embrace it! Think of all the new fish in the college sea. I know at first it will seem as though no one can compare to the one you were with, truth is; only time will tell. If you are supposed to be with that person, eventually it will happen if not, it might as well end sooner than later. Have fun, remain confident, and don’t always think you NEED to be in a relationship to be happy.
Scenario number four: I’ve gained weight! Everyone has heard of the so called, “freshman 15.” It’s true that college can initially lead to weight gain. This is due to eating at later times in the night, eating more fast food, and not working out as much. Alcohol is also one of the main causes of weight gain in college students. To fix your sudden weight gain, start with eating right. Pick meals that include each food group, and attempt to snack less. Along with eating the right foods, try and eat all your food before 9 at night. The later you eat, the more food sticks on your body once you sleep. Eating breakfast is one of the main contributors to a healthy diet. Breakfast gets your metabolism going sooner, and leads to less hunger overall throughout the day. If you must go to a fast food restaurant to eat, try and pick a subway or order off the lower calorie menu. The best advice is to just avoid fast food. Other things to avoid include pop and alcohol. These beverages are loaded with a ridiculous amount of calories. If you feel a good workout is in order, just do it! Now that the weather is getting nice, try going for a run or a bike ride. Getting active is a step in the right direction.
I hope if any of my scenarios related to you, my advice will also. Have an awesome last few weeks of school!