Getting the Most From Your Internship Experience
Learning, confirming, impressing, and positioning. When you take an internship, these should be four of your goals.
Of course you want to learn as much as you can about your employer and its culture, and about the industry in which it operates. You’re looking to confirm that both the employer and the industry are good matches for you.
But you also want to impress managers and leaders to position yourself for an offer of full-time employment from the organization once you graduate.
“If you get a ‘high-quality’ internship that gives you the chance to apply what you are studying in school, it will give you the opportunity to confirm that your major is really the right direction for the start of your career,” explains Steve Canale, General Electric’s (GE) manager of global recruiting and staffing services. “An internship is a great testing ground to make sure that you are on the right path.”
Most companies hire the majority of their full-time college graduates from their pool of interns and co-ops. Canale says that 70 percent of GE’s full-time hires have interned with the company. What can you do to get the most out of your internship experience? First, you need to know what employers look for in their interns that makes them candidates for full-time positions.
First and foremost, employers see potential in you, says Julie Cunningham, president of The Cunningham Group. Potential, Cunningham explains, is indicated by your:
- Ability to learn quickly (not just the job tasks, but the informal rules of the organization)
- Perseverance when confronted with obstacles
- Ability to work independently and finish tasks
- Ability to work as part of a team
- Technical skills related to the job
“Lastly,” she continues, “don’t underestimate how much social poise and good manners count.”
Burke Walls, Intel’s intern program manager, agrees, adding that a positive attitude during your internship is a key indicator of on-the-job success.
“Many times, students come into an internship ready for their dream job,” Walls says.
“However, in some cases, that dream job may be several steps away from the original internship. Even if this is the situation you’re in, you need to perform at a high level. Managers want to see you take care of your assignments, understand your deliverables, and use your skills and the resources available to you to get the job done. Be humble and appreciate the work others have done to make you successful.”
In this competitive job market, it’s important to keep in mind that the overarching goal of an internship is to get a full-time job offer, Canale says. “Realize that, like school, you are in a competitive environment and that your actions, attitude, and deliverables are being ‘graded,’ ” he adds. “With this in mind, look for ways to differentiate yourself.”
To make your mark, take advantage of the opportunities your employer makes available to you, says Shannon Atkison, Vanguard’s intern program manager. An example is speaking or presenting in front of senior leaders.
“Treat this like a final exam and prepare as much as you can,” Atkison says. “And be creative with your projects. Every project has the opportunity to turn into something robust and value-added given the right amount of time and creativity you put into it. These opportunities are like auditions and represent an incredible chance for you to set yourself apart.”
Incorporating these strategies will help you meet your internship goals in pursuit of the ultimate prize: a full-time job offer.
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Walking up the stairs in FATHOM’s Oakland-based 3D printing facility, I notice a group of small greyish objects along the stairwell. Leslie Ugarte, head of HR and UCSB graduate, tells me that FATHOM doesn’t bother with employee photos; instead, it uses 3D printers to create a bust of each person to highlight their unique—and growing—workforce.
Housed in a great location near Jack London Square in a classic manufacturing/brick loft-type structure with a youthful vibe, FATHOM is currently undergoing its largest expansion to date, doubling the size of its production center at its headquarters to accommodate the growing need for accelerated manufacturing services. The applications of 3D printing are almost limitless and cross all industries—biomedical, automotive, entertainment, industrial, aeronautical, retail, to name just a few! FATHOM works with companies large and small, creating parts, developing products, and providing equipment for organizations ranging from the largest Silicon Valley titans to startups looking to secure funding.
The team members at FATHOM seem to relish the fresh and exciting challenges that come with much of their work, as many of the projects they work on entail creating something that has never before existed.
3D printing, or as it’s called in the industry, “Additive Manufacturing,” is an umbrella term for creating parts through adding material layer by layer. In one of the most common processes, PolyJet 3D printing, the part is made somewhat similarly to 2D inkjet printing. Controlled by a computer model or 3D scan, the 3D printer creates a part by laying down material as slim as one-tenth of a millimeter, then lowering the build tray, and repeating the process until the three-dimensional part is complete. FATHOM 3D prints parts in a variety of materials, including thermoplastics, metals, and even circuitry!
FATHOM is looking to hire UCSB students in a variety of positions including design and engineering roles (for those with technical skills), lead generation, customer service, and many more. Specific majors and types of experience will vary by position and focus. Leslie Ugarte (email@example.com) welcomes outreach from UCSB students to discuss their interest in working at FATHOM (http://studiofathom.com/careers/).
Recent CNET feature on FATHOM’s work with Mercedes, Oakland facility, and 3D printing processes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPpMMKlZGjM&t=38s
The best way to explore a potential career choice is by speaking with and/or following someone who works in that career.
- Do an information interview. Learn first-hand about your chosen profession by asking questions about tasks, business environment, and educational background.
- Shadow a professional. Follow someone in your career choice as they go through a typical day or week on the job. Ask questions and observe the work.
Finding a Profession(al)
Finding someone to interview or shadow is not difficult. Ask your parents and your friends’ parents if they know someone you can interview. Ask your professors for recommendations of professionals in the field. Go to your career center: Many maintain lists of alumni and employers who are willing to help in your career exploration.
Next, call or write a letter requesting an information interview or job shadowing. People who like their jobs tend to enjoy talking about them. You compliment the professional by expressing an interest in the career. In your phone call or letter, explain how you found the person you want to interview and request time for an appointment. Emphasize that you want to find out more about the career—you’re not looking for a job. If you’re lucky, the professional you contact may have other colleagues you can interview also.
Takes notes during your time with the professional. Here are some questions you might ask:
- What is your typical workday like?
- What do you like most (and least) about your job?
- What skills/abilities are most important to succeed in this job?
- What is your educational background?
- How did you get started in this field?
- What courses were most helpful to you and which would you recommend?
- What is the best way to get started in this field?
- Do you have any additional advice to help me prepare?
Following Up Your Interview
Review your notes. What was your impression? Did you leave the interview feeling as if you can envision a future in this occupation or were you discouraged—you don’t feel you learned enough about the occupation or the job description doesn’t sound appealing any longer?
Take your thoughts and concerns to the career center staff and get feedback on the next step to take in your career exploration. You may want to do additional information interviews in this career path or you may want to reexamine your goals and find a different path for your interests.
No matter what you decide, send a thank-you note to anyone you interview or shadow. Whether you decide to forge ahead on that career path or find another one, this professional may be a good person to network with when you begin your job search.
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, copyright holder. www.naceweb.org.
Learn more about Researching Career & Industry and the Informational Interview.
Growing up in Southern California as the son of Taiwanese immigrants, Michael has always had a humble mindset and a deep appreciation for having what he deems “a great upbringing in a country where I don’t take my opportunities and rights for granted“. However, it wasn’t until college started that he put serious thought into service within the military. “I was immediately drawn to the discipline and pride the Marine Corps had in its traditions, values, and high physical standards” he states. Michael was also interested in flying fixed wing aircraft, which the Marine Corps offers to officers selected for its aviation branch. After talking in depth with an Officer Selection Officer and learning more about the program, he applied to the Platoon Leader’s Course (PLC) his sophomore year. The PLC program involves a highly selective application process and requires a student to pass Officer Candidates School, a military school designed to screen and evaluate potential junior officers. “Marine officers have the responsibility of leading and being accountable for the Marines under them” he states “and it is humbling to know I’ll be in charge of and working with such highly motivated and proactive people.” Michael passed the aviation exam and was selected as a flight contract for OCS soon afterwards, graduating with class PLC-219 the summer after his junior year.
Michael returned for his senior year and earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics and Accounting. With a job ready for him out of college, he spent his senior year leading the Semper Fi Society, picking up new hobbies, and maintaining a high GPA. Michael was also an active member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, volunteering at several marathons and participating in philanthropies such as Greeks4Kids and Habitat for Humanity. Owing much of his success to the support of his friends and family, he remains close with many of his fraternity brothers.
Michael plans to continue his education while in the military and transfer over to the business and financial sector after his service.
24 years ago an exciting idea became a reality when Skechers was officially incorporated in Manhattan Beach. Business was conducted from a beach house and the only style available was a practical work boot. Now the 2nd largest athletic shoe retailer (behind Nike), the company is on track to have 1,600 locations globally and has grown from that beach house to 4 large buildings in Manhattan Beach, with significant expansion coming in the near future.
Skechers has made its brand on having shoes for everyone, toddlers, children, teens, working folk, parents and grandparents. They are broadening significantly and are entering some very high-end markets, including men’s dress shoes, performance walking shoes, basketball shoes, cleated shoes and the list goes on. They are also entering the apparel market and will be bringing lines of athletic gear to their stores.
Skechers is looking to recruit UCSB students and bring them into the company in pre-management and management roles. They are open to different majors depending on the position, but are interested in those with creative backgrounds (design, marketing, and advertising), business backgrounds, technical expertise, and sales/retail experience. This year they will be adding UCSB to their formal summer internship program which brings together a cohort of 8 – 10 interns to the Manhattan Beach headquarters to fill various roles depending on organization need for a 10 – 12 week structured experience. Please find their listing on GauchoLink.
Additionally Skechers is always interested in hiring college students during the academic year, school breaks and the summer at their retail stores where skills in customer service and management are readily developed. Obviously experience in the retail industry and Skechers specifically is highly desired in the hiring process.
Blog written by Diana Seder, Employer Relations Manager, UCSB Career Services, firstname.lastname@example.org
You control your career destiny! Just going to class and picking up your diploma after four years doesn’t cut it. You need to become active on and off campus.
Becoming marketable to employers or graduate schools is a four-year job. Here are the top 10 things you can do during college to make yourself marketable at job-search time. In fact, if you do all 10 of these, you’ll be unstoppable:.
1. Keep your grades up
Employers and graduate schools want candidates with good grades. That will probably never change. Doing well academically not only proves that you have a good knowledge base, but indicates a strong work ethic—a trait that employers value.
2. Identify your interests, skills, values, and personal characteristics
The first step to clarifying your career goals is to go through a process of self-assessment. Visit your career center and take advantage of the self-assessment instruments it has to offer.
3. Actively explore career options
You owe it to yourself to find a career that enriches your life, not one that brings you down. Actively exploring careers means talking with professionals in occupations of interest and observing professionals on the job. Your career center probably has alumni and other volunteers who are willing to talk to you about their careers. Also, attend any career expos, career fairs, and career speaker panels that are offered.
4. Become active in extracurricular activities and clubs
Active involvement in activities and clubs on campus is highly valued by employers and graduate schools. Joining a club is fine, but becoming active within that club is what matters most. Become a leader, hold an office, or coordinate an event. You will develop your skills in leadership and teamwork—skills that recruiters covet!
5. Get involved in community service
It’s important that you begin to understand and appreciate the importance of giving back to your community, and that you live in a larger community than your college or hometown. Typically, students look at community service as a chore. After they’ve served, however, it’s usually one of the most rewarding experiences they’ve had! Recruiters love to see that you’ve volunteered to help in your community.
6. Develop your computer skills
Take advantage of the computer courses and workshops your college offers. You can also learn a lot by just experimenting with different software packages on your own. Finally, you should learn how to develop your own web page or web-based portfolio. There are many web-design software tools that make it real easy to develop your own web page! Contact your college’s information technology office to see how to get started.
7. Develop your writing skills
Over and over, company and graduate school recruiters complain about the lack of writing skills among college graduates. Don’t avoid classes that are writing intensive. Work at developing your writing skills. If there is a writing center on campus, have them take a look at your papers from time to time. Remember, the first impression you give to recruiters is typically your cover letter or personal statement.
8. Complete at least one internship in your chosen career field
More and more, internships are the springboards to employment and getting into graduate programs. Many recruiters say that when they need to fill entry-level jobs, they will only hire previous interns. In addition to making yourself more marketable, internships also are a great way to explore careers and determine whether or not certain careers are for you. When you work for a company as an intern for three to four months, you get a really good feel for whether the field (and company) is one in which you want to work day in and day out!
9. Gain an appreciation of diversity through study abroad, foreign languages, and courses
We are now, more than ever, working within a global work force. For you to be successful at work and in your life, you must stretch yourself, and learn about people and cultures different than yours. Take advantage of the wonderful study-abroad opportunities and the courses relating to diversity. This is your time to travel! Most people find it harder to take time to travel as they begin their careers and start families.
10. Use the career center all four years
The college career center can help you throughout your entire college career. Here is just a sampling of what your career center can help you do:
◦ Choose your major and career direction,
◦ Explore career options,
◦ Obtain an internship,
◦ Write a resume and cover letter,
◦ Develop your interviewing skills,
◦ Identify your skills, interests, and values,
◦ Develop a job-search or graduate school plan,
◦ Connect you with prospective employers (career fairs, on-campus recruiting, and more), and
◦ Connect you with alumni mentors.
Remember, you control your career destiny. Don’t wait until your senior year to start realizing your goals. Your career train is on the move. Jump on board now so you can reach your destination!
By Bob Orndorff. Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, copyright holder, www.naceweb.org