Advice on How to the Get the Most Out of your Internship

Yay! So you have your summer internship lined up for the summer, and you are suuuuuper excited for it! But what if this is your first internship? What are you supposed to expect at the end of it? How do you make sure that you make the best of this experience?

Here are some tips:

Prove yourself – Show that you pay attention to detail and that you are eager to learn/perform, no matter how boring the task is. People will recognize your enthusiasm and let you try more interesting things.

Pay attention to the office culture and interact with co-workers – Get to know everyone in the office and how they interact! This gives you a feel for the social aspects of a career in the field would be.

Take your work seriously – Focus. Stay away from social networks, even if they seem to not affect your job. Take responsibility for any mistakes you make, because they can affect everyone in the workplace, not just you. If you make a mistake, tell your boss that you won’t make it again and make sure of it.

Ask for feedback – Ask your boss/supervisor how you are doing – what could you be doing differently? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you meeting goals? Taking the initiative in asking for feedback helps your supervisor give you input to help you grow.

Learn from your co-workers – Ask your co-workers about their careers: how did they get into the field? What do they like about it? What advice do they have for you? Let them know that you are open to any advice or constructive criticisms.

Dress appropriately – If you want the part, you have to look the part.

Say Thank You – show your genuine appreciation to your supervisor for the opportunity and guidance. Also thank your co-workers for their advice and support.

By using these simple tips, you can gain a lot from your internship and grow as an individual. The purpose of an internship is to test the path toward your dream career and to give you a taste for what the work world is like. You can learn so much simply by being in the work environment. So be brave, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and take a step closer to the real world.

Ellen Hoang, McMurtry College, Sid Rich PCA Liason

Five Steps On How to Write a Thank You Note After an Interview

You just had an interview for your dream internship/job, and whether it was the best or worst interview you’ve ever had, you can’t leave it hanging! So here are 5 steps to writing a simple thank you note to your interviewer:

  1. Be genuine in your appreciation – Use your own feelings and gratitude to express yourself and connect with the interviewer. Don’t go overboard with flowery language though! Keep it honest and simple.
  2. Reinforce your interest and enthusiasm for the position and organization – Show that you are excited about the possibility of working for that organization. A good way to demonstrate enthusiasm is to talk about something you learned about the company in your interview.
  3. Highlight your key selling points – Clearly explain how you would be a strong fit for the company, and describe some of your skills that match the responsibilities of the position. This is a good place to add any selling points that you forgot to mention in your interview.
  4. Keep it sweet and simple! – Keep your thank you note concise (like your cover letter), not more than a few paragraphs and certainly not more than a page.
  5. PROOFREAD – Don’t embarrass yourself with grammar and spelling mistakes of an 8-year old. Read it aloud to make sure it flows well. Remember, final impressions are just as important as first impressions.

If you are writing thank you notes for several interviewers, be sure to personalize each one. Don’t just copy and paste the same message – they can easily tell if you do so. Also, don’t wait on sending this thank you note for more than 2 days! The sooner it’s done, the better.

Now you are ready to write your thank you note!

Best of luck to you!

Ellen Hoang, McMurtry ’16, Sid Rich PCA Liason

What Are You Saying With Your Body?

It is an undeniable fact that what you say when navigating the treacherous seas of the professional world is of great consequence. People practice elevator pitches until they are blue in the face and wrack their brains for the perfect follow-up questions in interviews, and who could blame them? Words are powerful and should not be slung about without careful consideration. However, when searching for those perfect words, people often forget to think about how they will look when delivering their flawless speech.

And that is where they fail.

Nonverbal communication is just as, if not monumentally more, important as what you say. Here are five things to consider trying out the next time you venture out into the waters of professionalism:

1) Stand up Straight

Remember when your parents used to chastise you for slouching and slumping? Well, they had a point. Good posture can make you appear powerful and confident, and who doesn’t want some of that? Next time you are standing or sitting in a professional context, pay attention to how you are holding yourself. If your posture is not erect, and your shoulders are not back, fix it!

2) Lean In

Sheryl Sandberg has pretty much got this one covered, but I’ll go ahead and mention it anyway. Leaning in and tossing the occasional head nod towards someone who is speaking conveys a message of “I’m listening to you and taking your words seriously.” This is extremely important, as people generally do not like feeling ignored.

3) Eye Contact

If the eyes are windows to the soul, then anyone who refuses to maintain eye contact obviously has no soul and cannot be trusted. At least that is what people in the working world will think if you don’t look at them during a conversation. Well maybe not that exactly, but the impression you give certainly won’t be a good one. It’s okay to blink and move your gaze occasionally, but make an effort to maintain eye contact for a majority of the time. Speaking to a group? Move your gaze around your audience and make everyone feel included.

4) Keep it open

Sliding your hands into your pockets and crossing your arms are two surefire ways of broadcasting to the world that you do not want to interact. The moment your hands enter your pockets everything starts to go wrong; your shoulders cave in, you start to slump, and you look like a turtle retreating into its shell. Similarly, when you cross your arms, you appear defensive and closed-off. Both of these behaviors signal to people that you are not enjoying the conversation, do not feel comfortable speaking to them, and would probably rather be anywhere else at the moment. If you find yourself doing any of these reprehensible behaviors, take a moment and strongly consider the message you are sending.

5) Smile

Who doesn’t love a good smile? When you look happy, you feel happy, and so does everyone around you. Smiling puts people at ease and makes you seem much more approachable. Use those facial muscles and pearly whites to craft a positive impression, because, after all, isn’t that the goal of all this body language talk?

Good luck out there!

Andrew Austin, Baker PCA

 

Professional Speech: Don’t Upspeak

Professional speech is important because it is what shows recruiters, interviewers, managers, and other professionals that you are able to communicate effectively. When you are speaking with potential employers it is vital that you are assertive, confident, and appropriate in the way you speak. Your communication skills can make or break an interview or even determine whether you are asked to interview!

Don’ts of Professional Speech

Upspeak (aka Uptalk or High Rising Terminal) is increasingly common, especially in the younger generation. It is best described as a speech pattern in which an individual ends his or her sentences with a higher pitch similar to how they would if they were asking a question. Can you imagine what that sounds like? There’s probably someone you know that seems to always be asking a question when they speak. Can you hear it now? If not, make sure to pay extra attention to the conversations that you have in the next few days and see if you can pick it up! If you’re still unsure take a few minutes to watch this video!

So now that you know what Upspeak is, let’s focus on how it can be detrimental to your career:

  • Upspeak has the tendency to show listeners that you are unsure of yourself, feel inferior to them, or are somehow seeking approval. This is not something that you want to convey to a recruiter, interviewer, or potential employer. They need to see that you can express yourself confidently in the statements that you make.
  • Managers find Upspeak annoying. According to a survey conducted by UK Publisher Pearson, bosses do not look favorably on employers that Upspeak. From the survey responses they found that it is possible for Upspeak to hinder prospects for promotion.

Strive to be a better communicator – watch out for Upspeak! Make sure that you’re ending your statements with a leveled tone and only using raised pitch for questions.

Thanks to the alums and staff on the Rice University OWL Career Mentor Network on LinkedIn for this topic. This group is a great resource for career and professional advice – the alumni in this group are eager to help students and would love to hear from you. Join the group today if you’re not already part of it!

Adeola Adegabi, Wiess PCA

 

What I wish I knew as a freshman

Now, at the beginning of 2014, I am about to finish my junior year at Rice. It is a time that I think back and write down some of my life experiences. I hope this can both be a good summary of my gains and losses, as well as a useful piece of advice for the underclassmen who still have a lot more possibilities.

Unsure about your major?

I am a happy CompSci major now, but when I was a freshman I thought about being a CHBE, or PHYS, or MATH, or ECON major. I was so undecided that I had problem doing almost everything (which club to join or which area to spend time exploring.) If you are feeling the same, do not feel bad because you are not alone. Decisions do not come up like magic. I tried my best looking for resources, talking to my parents, my friends, professors, PCAs, CCD staff. I did personal interest assessment test (with CCD,) attended career plan workshops, and most importantly I tried out classes and research.

I feel lucky that I was actively seeking a solution to solve this problem. But I wish I knew that not being sure about my major could be a problem back then, so I might have made a decision earlier. After all, an early start would bring me much better internships as well as research experience, and a lighter workload in my senior year as well.

Stay Healthy

I wish I knew that staying up late was not something to be proud of, nor a solution to not being able to finish homework on time. As a freshman I lacked a balance of life and a good schedule for my study. In turn, I lived on coffee and energy drinks. Now I try to live a 12-7 life style and in return, get a clearer mind and better health condition. I am also forced to not to procrastinate

Step out and speak up! Ask for help.

I wish I would have asked more questions and sought more help from professors. I thought I would be embarrassed asking stupid questions but more often than not many other people did not understand what I was confused about. I would have benefited much more from the classes if I would have spoken up more.

Building up a professional relationship at Rice is supreme.

I wish I would have gone to professors’ office hours as much as I could, or talked with them after class in a more personal setting. I gradually realized that professors can be your mentor and your friend, point you to do the right thing, give you letters of recommendation, and refer you to jobs (maybe.) Challenge yourself to make sure professors remember your name, so you don’t regret it as I do now

College is about trial and error.

Lastly, do not worry that you might still have regret when you are at my age! I probably will write a “what I wish I knew when I was …” every 3 years, but I will always celebrate my life as long as I keep trying and challenging myself.

Your Duncan PCA,

Maggie Tang

Making the Most of LinkedIn

What can I use LinkedIn for?

-CONNECTIONS: It is not simply a social network! It is a way to connect with people and groups in your field of interest.

-RESEARCH: Look for jobs, organizations, and people.

-Get ANSWERS: Ask industry experts who are willing to share advice and their connections directly. Check out the OWL Career Mentor Network.

-Personal BRANDING: personalize your skill set and employment search.

How do I use LinkedIn?

The steps are similar to setting up a new account in a social network:

  1. Create an account
  2. Create your profile:
    1. Be specific, complete, professional, and concise. Tailor the information to your field of interest by researching the abilities that companies in your field of choice are looking for. Here are a few basic reminders:
      1. Use a professional looking profile picture.
      2. Make your profile heading pop. For example, not “Rice student”, but “Chemical Engineer/Business minor Student, Rice University”
      3. Anything can be included in the experience section as long as it’s relevant. You can include volunteer work, summer jobs, Rice Leadership activities, Research project, internships, and community service.
  3. Find “Friends”:
    1. You can not only search people but also search jobs, companies, groups, location, and key words.

One common and annoying situation: You are interested in the company, but no applicable jobs?

A solution is to find a CONNECTION via LinkedIn and ask for information. Start with friends and families. Check the employees in that company. Is there anyone you can link with, such as Rice alumni? Don’t be afraid to send a message to an alumnus you have never talked to. Most Rice alumni are happy to help you, but people are always busy. If they forget to respond, wait patiently and send another message politely.

Join groups related to your professional interests and communities. Alumni, parents, students looking for jobs, and employers are all in the groups. They are perfect people to connect to.

Don’t forget to link in with Nicole Van Den Heuvel, the director of CCD.

Nebula Han, Martel College PCA

The First Impression

Everyone judges. It’s a fact of life that can’t be changed. Most people will judge you within the first second of meeting you and their opinion will most likely never change! Therefore that first impression is incredibly important, and you only get one shot at it.

So how do you go about making a great, if not amazing, first impression? Just follow these few guidelines!

  1. Set a goal. What kind of impression do you want to make? What do you wish to achieve? If you’re going to an interview, research the company’s culture and get a feel for the type of person you’re going to be interviewed by. If you’re going to a cocktail party or a big conference where you’ll be meeting a ton of people every hour, create a greeting and think of the type of interactions you want and expect. In other words, be prepared and not awkward.
  2. Look in the mirror. What are you wearing??? Make sure your clothing fits the event and the impression you want to give. People take this factor highly into account when making first judgments because clothing reflects your personality. For men, they often don’t realize that their watch can say a lot about them. For women, purses and large or excessive jewelry will also indicate a lot to the person you are meeting. Also make sure that your hair and makeup say what you want it to say! Guys and gals alike should be nicely groomed!
  3. Beware of your body language! This is crucial to other people’s impression of you. Posture, gait, and hand positioning all factor into play. If you have bad habits, make a conscious effort to improve on them. Oftentimes, just thinking about your body language will help you improve when meeting someone new. Don’t forget to practice that handshake!
  4. Avoid bad days. Try not to meet people if you’re in a bad mood. If you’re having a bad day, it usually doesn’t get much better, and it’s obvious in your tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions. Lighten up by going for a run, a relaxing day at the park, or even watching a funny movie!
  5. Be genuine. Be yourself! Don’t spend time trying to be someone who you’re not, because it’ll only hurt you in the long run if you want to make lasting relationships! Instead, try being genuinely interested and engaged in the conversation. Enthusiasm and attention are contagious, and will help you have deeper conversations and create lasting connections.

Good luck!

Bill Wang, Brown College PCA

The Hidden Job Market…

Have you ever wondered why the perfect job you have been looking for is so elusive? You have browsed through hundreds of posted jobs but you can’t find the one you are looking for. Perhaps you need to tap into the hidden job market – it exists! A great article came out that outlines the steps you can take to get started. Click the screenshot to read more (or click here)!