internships

Things to Work on This Summer (Besides Your Tan)

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As the semester is ending, the only thing on my mind is summer. While I wish I could spend my summer lounging around, the sad reality is that I can’t. This summer I’ll be working part-time, working two on-site internships, as well as blogging for eCampus.com. Maybe you don’t want to spend your summer like me, but there’s something everyone can do to be productive during break. The following are my recommendations for ways to have a productive summer break.

enjoying the sun

1. Work. Working allows me to save up money so I don’t have to work as much during the school year. If working part-time is the only thing you’ll be doing this summer, then you’ll still have plenty of time to relax and hang out with your friends.

2. Intern. Internships are the best way to get experience related to your field. Unfortunately, many internships don’t pay, so doing one in the summer can allow you to work without trying to juggle school and work too. But the important thing about internships isn’t the money; it’s getting real experience. Internships are also a great way to gain pieces for your professional portfolio. If you don’t know where to start looking, check out internships.com (that’s how I got this position)!

3. Volunteer. There’s nothing more rewarding than doing something good. Countless organizations take volunteers, especially during the summer. Volunteering is a way to do something you’re passionate about outside of school.

4. Study abroad. If there were one thing I wish I could do, it would be to study abroad. While it may be pricey, there are options to take care of the finances. There are numerous national study abroad programs, and your school may have its own study abroad program. Learning or working in a foreign country is a great resume enhancer.

5. Personal improvement. If the above don’t seem like your thing, you at least owe yourself some “me” time after a long semester. Start a new fitness routine, read a book, or take up a new hobby. There are endless ways to spend your summer. You don’t want to waste three months with nothing to show.

There is nothing wrong with relaxing for a few days after finals and enjoying the sun, but it is important to have a plan. The longer you sit around, the harder it will be to get back on schedule.  What are your plans for making this summer the best it can be?

Big Girl Pants: Not Taking On Too Much

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Club fairs, internship offers, classes and part-time jobs are all beginning.

It’s easy to sign your name to a bunch of club newsletter lists, but eventually, you’ll have to make some choices as to what you want to follow through on and which you don’t.

I am a perfect example of taking on too much. I always knew I didn’t want to regret not doing something. I played collegiate field hockey, pledged a sorority, worked at the study abroad office, actually studied abroad, lived in a sustainable living facility and kept up with multiple internships and part-time jobs.

Looking back, there is nothing I wish I did, aside from maybe relaxing a bit more.

Half way through your college experience, you might feel as though your responsibilities and commitments are gobbling you up. I am not condoning running from responsibility, but one way I started over was through the National Student Exchange. I realized I had a lot of commitments and I no longer was too happy. I realized as a 20 year old, I didn’t need that much stress.

I made some phone calls and prepared a trip with the National Student Exchange. I figured out that a school 3,000 miles away had the courses I needed and was cheaper for me to go to. I got to relive some study abroad moments (packing for four months in two bags, meeting new people from all over the world, exploring a new area). I am a proud alumna of all of the organizations I was apart of while at my home school back in New Jersey. Now, when I have a few hours in between classes and internship work, I get to explore California with new friends. I scheduled courses into my schedule that make sense to my academic career that I wouldn’t be able to have done otherwise.

If half way through your college years, you feel as though your life is more stressful than you can manage, go over to your school’s study abroad office and check out if they participate in the National Student Exchange.

If you don’t have this as an option or traveling isn’t for you, be honest with yourself and with others about how much you can take on. Exploit your opportunities; go out there and do stuff; but be sure to take some time for yourself too.

Big Girl Pants: Taking School Seriously Without Taking Yourself Too Seriously

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Especially once senior year hits, we end up holding more and more responsibility. It is important to take these responsibilities seriously, doing your homework, staying present in class (literally and figuratively) and overall staying on top of your game.

Along with this, networking, interning and applying for jobs are all on the horizon.

It is easy to get wrapped up in all of this work. You know how girls and boys end up having social lives that are all consuming? Remember petty high school drama? I’m sure you do, as it will be around you for the rest of your life, in college and in the workplace. Getting too wrapped up in work is just as bad.

Senior year in college is a crucial time in your life as the decisions you make will shape your future. If you research and apply for jobs and prepare for graduation, you will be in a much different place the day after graduation than someone who doesn’t.

There’s one big factor to remember though. You are young. This will be the only time in your life where going to crazy themed parties is acceptable. This will be the only time you are able to pull and all-nighter and still be a functional member of society the next day. This will be the only time you are able to wake up and wear yoga pants on a day you have work to do.

Savor it.

Remember you need to get work done, but savor and exploit the times you do not.

The best way I’ve found to do this is to take a fun class, save an hour or so right after class to go to the library and get homework done so everything’s out of the way and be sure to get an eight-hour sleep. Eat right. Take care of yourself. Make a time to prepare for after graduation. Make time to go out on adventures with your friends.

It might take some tea, some coffee and a legal drink, but you can get all your bases covered. I promise. If you are determined and persistent and manage your time right, you can do it all.

Big Girl Pants: Out of the Box Internships

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When someone’s typing on a laptop, what do you imagine they’re on? Facebook? Tumblr? Twitter? Pinterest?

Although that is the majority, some college students are actually at work, and I don’t just mean typing up a paper or researching for class work. Virtual internships are a thing of the present, and although online colleges seem a bit sketchy, online internships can yield some real resume building experience.

Personally, out of the seven publications I have written for, only two were honest to goodness in-person jobs, and only one was in a typical 9-5 format (although it was really 9-6pm with a half hour lunch break).

Although working in your pajamas seems like a dream come true, and sometimes is, getting dressed and going out in public to work can make a great difference to your motivation and quality of work. I’m not going to lie though, making deadline in my workout clothes while on the deck at my grandmother’s house with iced tea and cookies in hand is a dream come true…

As a journalism major, gaining writing experience online is an option. Education majors might not find as much luck gaining virtual internships, but knowing how to find internships online is key.

Check out the Top 10 Internship Ready Majors provided by Internships.com.

Speaking of that site, five out of the seven writing opportunities I have had were from internships.com. The steps to finding an internship are easy. Make a profile. Upload your resume. Copy and paste your cover letter. Search and apply. Just be sure to tweak your CV for employers aka customize it with their company name and highlight one specific reason why you think you’re cut out for their position. Then it’s all a waiting game.

Gaining experience can be nerve racking, but the more things you apply to, the better your chances of hearing back. Don’t leave any pebble unturned.

One thing I realized the hard way is to be sure to research or read up about the company before applying and accepting.  I knew a bit of what I was getting into with one job I had, but I quickly realized it was not for me. This situation can be prevented if you do your research beforehand.

There are tons of quality websites to find internships and entry-level jobs that are major specific. As a soon-to-be college graduate, I’m reluctant to sharing all of the websites I use as a journalism major (since the field is so tough right now), but as soon as I nail something down for myself I’ll share some specifics!

Good luck and happy hunting.

Being Professional Online

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While you’re interning this summer, you also want to keep in touch with all of your friends online. Your Facebook wall is full of curse words, your Twitter feed is all about partying and you have a ton of posted pictures that are seemingly less than professional. Your boss just friend requested you—not to mention potential employers are constantly looking you up online—so it’s time to clean up your online platforms.

One of the easiest things you can do is control your privacy settings. When friending your boss, it’s important to make sure your profile doesn’t have anything too scandalous. Keep your albums private—if necessary, don’t feel like your employer or colleagues can’t see anything you post, unless you just really want to keep your personal life and work life completely separate. If friends post inappropriate comments on your wall, you can either make your entire wall private or make individual posts private. Even easier, you can talk to your friends about what they post; hopefully, they can clean up their act, at least while you’re actively interning.

Besides privacy, you also need to be conscious of what you are posting. Watch how much personal information you put on your profiles. When tweeting, don’t post every single thing you’re doing every hour of the day. Not only could it lead to unexpected stalkers, but it’s annoying for everyone who follows you. This isn’t necessarily unprofessional, but it makes your profiles overall appear too simple and doesn’t necessarily show off your true self—at least as an employee or intern. Instead, try retweeting posts from your company (not every single one, or even every day) and other places that interest you. Post some interesting articles related to your school major or skills. The more variety you have throughout your online profiles, the easier it will be for employers—current and those seeking you out for interviews—to paint a picture of what you can bring to the company and also how they can cater to your interests.

Finally, and most importantly, to keep a professional Facebook or Twitter, don’t post negative comments about your work. Think or yourself as an ambassador for the company. If you’re posting that you hate your boss, you have an annoying colleague, or that you just hate what you’re doing, you shouldn’t expect to be working there much longer. If you feel the need to vent—about work, personal issues or anything like that—keep it off the Internet. It might be funny, it might lead to a lot of comments on your Facebook wall, but it’s not classy or professional. Besides, a good phone call or in person venting session is always fun.

Overall, just be aware of what you and others are posting on your profiles. It’s not hard to remain professional, it just takes active attention to your accounts. Good luck, interns!

– ToonyToon