Career Corner: Making the Most Out of Your Internship

As the school year winds down, it’s time to start thinking about summer plans outside the classroom. Internships are a great way to learn new workplace skills and gain experience in a field that you are curious and passionate about. If this is your first internship, you might be wondering what having an internship actually entails. Internships, especially unpaid internships, give students the opportunity to make mistakes in a safe, learning environment. Not every internship has a structured program, so it’s important to have close relationships with your supervisor and co-workers, try something new, and ask a billion questions.

These articles highlight some of the ways in which interns can proactively navigate the world of internships and make the most out of their experiences.

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Internship

6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR INTERNSHIP

These tips are not only great for internships but can also be applicable to volunteer and research positions. To quote one of the articles, “be a sponge”! Don’t wait until it’s too late to explore a new interest or express a concern. Be proactive and have a positive attitude!

Career Corner: Last-Minute Job Search Strategies

Spring has officially sprung! Unsure about your summer plans? No worries! These two articles will help you learn how to effectively search and apply for late-minute internships/jobs for the summer!

Last-Minute Job Search Tips For Students Without Summer Internships

5 Ways to Get a Last-Minute Summer Job

Although internships are a great way to gain experience in the job field you are passionate/curious about, there are plenty of other opportunities that can help you gain valuable experiences!

Look below for examples of informal opportunities that can help boost your resume and job skills.

  • Set up informational interviews to expand your network.
  • Shadow local professionals who have careers that you are interested in. Utilize the Northwestern alumni network and Mentorship Program or your personal network to locate individuals and set up shadowing opportunities. This can be a great way to acquire an understanding of a variety of different fields in a relatively short period of time.
  • Volunteer with an organization working in an area that you’re passionate about.
  • Work on a passion project that you don’t find the time to do during the school year.

Career Corner: Thank You Letters

Congrats, you just finished a job interview! Now what?

Thank you letters are a crucial step in the post interview hiring process. Check out this helpful article and learn how to craft a perfect thank you letter to make a lasting impression on any employer!

Happy job hunting!

Career Corner: Finding the Right Internship & Funding

Hiring season is upon us! Whether you are beginning your search, applying for internships, or secured offers from employers, it is important to know which internship is right for you. This article will help any student navigating the internship application process on helpful tips to securing internships, knowledge on the different types of internships, and funding programs.

In addition, students looking for financial assistance this summer for either a PAID or UNPAID internship should heavily consider applying for the School of Communication’s Internship Awards. All School of Communication undergraduate students are eligible to apply for the internship award programs. You do not need to have a secured internship when applying! Deadline to apply is Monday, April 17, 2017 at 9:00am.

The Hammerschlag Internship Award is an initiative made possible by the generous donation of  the Hammerschlag family, provides funding to students interning over summer quarter in any market.

 

The Molotsky Internship Award is an initiative made possible by the generous donation of Barbara Molotsky, provides funding to students to help defray the living expenses associated with interning outside of the Chicagoland area.

 

The WCLV Internship Award is an initiative made possible by the generous donation of Robert Conrad, provides funding to students interning over summer quarter in any market. While all students are welcome to apply, preference is given for students with internships in the radio industry.

 

FAQs:

  • Nationwide/International internships: If you are interning outside of the Chicagoland area, you are eligible for all three awards and are welcome to apply to all of them
  • Chicagoland internships: If you are interning in the Chicago area, you are NOT eligible for The Molotsky Internship Award
  • Paid versus unpaid internships: You may apply for these awards for both paid and unpaid internship experiences
  • Selection Criteria:
    • Degree to which the internship will help the students in his or her future career
    • Financial need
    • Academic performance
  • Award amount: Award amount varies for each program. On average student have been awarded up to $2,000-$3,000
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at epics@northwestern.edu

 

College-to-Career Path for Northwestern Graduates with Disabilities

disability_student_guide_banner3
Photo courtesy of BestColleges.com

Graduation is now behind us and most college grads on now jumping into a full-time job search.

While all college graduates faces challenges in regards to the college to career transition, students with disabilities face additional challenges. As recently discussed by BestColleges.com article, “Career Guide for Students with Disabilities” the employment rate for college graduates with disabilities is 50.6%, as compared to 89.9% of graduates without disabilities.

For that reason, BestColleges.com has created a Career Guide for Students with Disabilities resource which discusses common challenges, career prep prior to graduation, and tips for after graduation, and links to additional resources for students with disabilities.

Read more by visiting the BestColleges.com article.

EPICS Career Corner! Making the Most of Your Summer Internship

All of your hard work has paid off! Long gone are the multiple revisions of your resume, cover letter, the weeks spent waiting to hear if you will be offered an interview, preparing for the interview, THE INTERVIEW itself and a few more weeks of waiting to hear those cherished words: “I’d like to offer you an internship with our organization!”

As the summer approaches, we thought we’d provide you with advice on making the most of your internship experience. What follows are best practices gleaned from our own adventures as interns, from former students, and employers

background-checks-2015Best practice (BP) number 1 might make you “roll your eyes”, but don’t ever underestimate the obvious: Be on time! Not just the first day of your internship, but every day of your internship. If you are going to be late or if you are ill, be sure to communicate with your supervisor.

BP# 2: Ask for a clear set of objectives that you’ll need to achieve by the end of your internship. Request feedback on a regular basis. Regular means weekly or bi-weekly depending upon the schedule of your supervisor. Implement that feedback and if you don’t understand something, make sure to ask clarifying questions.

BP# 3: is related to #2: Journal! Capture weekly what you have learned and accomplished during the week. The former will help you measure your personal growth and the latter will help you build your accomplishment-based resume!

BP# 4: Work hard and when appropriate, take the initiative! Nothing turns off an employer more than a worker or intern who slacks off. The purpose of your internship is to help you learn as well as contribute. Every work day will have an ebb and flow—don’t wait to be told what to do! Seek an opportunity to take on a new task or project! Be a contributor.

BP# 5: Be quick to listen and slow to speak. When attending a meeting, ask your supervisor what your role should be. Are you there to observe? Expected to contribute? Listening carefully will enable you to contribute meaningfully.

BP# 6Meet deadlines. If you’re going to miss a deadline, be proactive and renegotiate early, not when the project is due!

BP# 7Network. Utilize your time to build your professional network. Ask a co-worker for a cup of coffee. Network vertically as well as horizontally in an organization. Be mindful that everyone has a journey that might provide insights on how to be a success in your future career.

BP# 8: Keep in touch. The summer will be over before you know it. You’ve built relationships with the folks you’ve worked with. Keep those relationships alive as you continue your education. Sometimes, it is as simple as a quick note or email to say hello. Be that person that makes the effort to keep in touch.

Written by EPICS Assistant Director Kimberley Cornwell, who serves as the main point of contact for students in the Master of Science in Health Communication program.

EPICS Career Corner! Salary Negotiation

One of the final elements of the interview cycle is the opportunity to negotiate salary and other benefits. We all dream of making more money, but there are some rules to follow to fully convince a new employer about the value your employment brings to the firm. Negotiating will be something you should do as you progress through your career, but your first job might be another story.

Before you begin the negotiation process, remember that many entry-level positions have standardized salaries and all new recruits may begin at the same pay rate.  This is especially true from companies that take in a large starting class (think consulting, for instance).  Additionally, depending on the industry you are entering, pay varies based on budgets and organizations.  With this in mind, as an entry-level candidate, it’s important to look at the overall benefit package offered by a firm and look at your long-term career path and how your first job can help you achieve your overall career goals.

In order to negotiate properly with a company, you should do your research on what comparable organizations and positions offer.  By researching ahead of time, you’re able to gain a baseline of what comparable positions pay.  As the candidate, you should never bring up the topic of salary.  Let the employer bring the subject up first.  This gives you an additional amount of knowledge to help frame your argument once they disclose a position’s salary.

Remember that companies won’t simply pay you more because you ask for it.  You need to be prepared to have a conversation about your experience and the impact you’ve made in your previous roles.  By demonstrating the value you brought to an organization by streamlining a process or saving the organization money, you are demonstrating to the employer how you can make an impact if they hire you. It’s not simply a conversation about you wanting more, the emphasis should focus on the value you will bring the employer, the different ways you can contribute, as well as your ideas for helping the business succeed if you are hired.  As Forbes contributor Laura Shin notes, “…you don’t want to ask for a higher salary when securing a new job, or when requesting a raise or promotion.  You want to make a strong case for why it makes sense for them to give you one.”

There is more than money that can be negotiated.  If a pay increase isn’t feasible, inquire about flexible work hours, work from home options, or health benefits.  Again, not all companies are able to offer flexibility with working from home, but it’s acceptable to inquire about all benefits that may be available.

Here are a few items to consider:

  • Let the employer bring up the topic of salary first
  • Make sure you’ve done your research. Sites like glassdoor.com can offer insights into salary data
  • What can you do for a company? What value and insights can you bring? How will you contribute to their success?
  • Practiced for your interview! Asking for more money can be nerve-wracking. Make sure you have a solid grasp of your talking points
  • Entry-level positions don’t always offer salary flexibility. Look at the full picture!

Finally, remember that nothing is more important than finding a position that gives you experience and allows you to build a set of skills.  Deepak Malhotra of the Harvard Business Review says “[negotiating] should come into play only after a thoughtful, holistic job hunt designed to ensure that the path you’re choosing will lead you where you want to go.”   Translation?  No amount of money can make you happy compared to the experience of doing something that you love, with a company you like, in a position you enjoy.  For your first job out of college, that can be incredibly rewarding.

Written by EPICS Associate Director Michael Johnson, who serves as the main point of contact for all students enrolled in the Master of Science in Communication program.

EPICS Career Corner! Leveraging LinkedIn

LinkedInBeing connected is a good thing.  LinkedIn has become a de facto site for finding alumni, professional contacts and searching for a job.  Creating a professional online presence and leveraging your network to research companies and positions should be one of the first things you do when searching for either an internship or a full-time position. To truly leverage all of LinkedIn’s features, we’ve compiled a list of several top tips to help you maximize your profile and bring your online resume to life.

Broadcast Your Career Goals

Don’t hide!  Your profile should give employers an indication of your career goals. Creating a descriptive headline to capture the skills and attributes you offer can draw an employer’s attention. For example, if you are interested in social media marketing, then highlight those skills and indicate this to an employer.

Example: “Innovative Communications Student Seeking Social Media Internship”

Professional Summary

With your headline written, it’s now time focus on a summary detailing past experiences and your goals and professional skill set.   This is similar to an elevator pitch.  LinkedIn recommends this section be “concise and confident.”  Remember to focus on what you can offer an employer instead of focusing on what you are looking to learn in your new position.   As you begin to leverage your network, your career goals and professional summary will be one of the first sections people will view.

Build Your Connections

LinkedIn is only effective if you actively build your network of connections.  Remember, you will be building your network over time—and we all have to start someplace.  This may sound obvious, but donate time each week to seeking out new contacts.  Begin with classmates and former coworkers. Begin a strategic outreach for connections for informational interviews or simply connect to build your network.  Remember, quality over quantity!

Alumni Search

As a student, you automatically have a default network of Northwestern University alumni to draw upon.  Because LinkedIn is built on the power of networks, you can search for alumni from Northwestern in specific positions or at specific companies.

Start with “My Network” and LinkedIn will generate a list of alumni from Northwestern to help you begin the connection process.    The search will generate Northwestern alumni based on what they do, where they work and where they live.  This search can be helpful if you are, for example, searching for media and communication alumni (there are over 13,000 listed!).

Additionally, by searching for a specific company and then narrowing down employees by Northwestern alumni, you are able to focus your outreach.

Groups

LinkedIn also offers you the ability to connect with other members through a variety of groupsGroups allow you to join professional areas that demonstrate your interest in an industry or topic and facilitate outreach to new contacts because of your shared interest in a group. If you are considering a career in marketing, a quick search resulted in 41,000+ groups dedicated to various aspects of marketing.  It’s an excellent way to create a digital profile of your interest in a number of industries.

Honors / Awards / Recommendations

Employers look for employees who are well-rounded candidates.  Use the honors, awards and volunteering sections of LinkedIn to promote any clubs and organizations you are involved with.  These out-of-the-classroom experiences give entry-level job seekers the opportunity to show an employer their passions and campus recognitions.

To leverage your networks effectively, consider asking a former supervisor or coworker to endorse you.  Endorsements are an opportunity to showcase your talents and add additional information about your work ethic.  These recommendations, honors and awards give your profile extra pizzazz that don’t always translate well in a resume.

Follow Companies

LinkedIn is increasingly a platform for companies to advertise open positions.  You can follow specific companies and engage with them online.  These online connections can open an entirely new set of potential employers allowing you to research new opportunities.

Recruiters are increasingly using LinkedIn as a method to source talent and recruit new hires for their organization.  Companies frequently begin searching for candidates before positions are open to create a pipeline of talented individuals who specifically meet their hiring criteria.

It pays to be proactive!  Make sure you are leveraging your LinkedIn profile to its fullest by engaging with alumni and employers through this professional social media platform.  For more information, LinkedIn has several resources useful for college students.  They offer step-by-step ways to create an engaging profile.

Written by EPICS Associate Director Michael Johnson, who serves as the main point of contact for all students enrolled in the Master of Science in Communication program.

EPICS Career Corner! Elevator Pitch Essentials

Elevator-Pitch-InfographicThe elevator pitch: the hypothetical situation where you find yourself in an elevator with someone that you want to work with, and you have only the time it takes to travel a few floors to introduce yourself, your value, and a proposition.

Of course, you may never actually find yourself in a literal elevator, but there are plenty of instances where it’s helpful to be able to summarize yourself – either to a stranger at a party, a potential employer at a job interview, or even with an in-law at a family get together.

If ever you have a short amount of time to present yourself to someone, here are some things to keep in mind.

The perfect elevator pitch describes:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What makes you and what you do unique
  • How you do it and who it may affect

Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Make it flexible, but know those key elements listed above intimately.
  • Use the pitch as a conversation starter, not a monologue.
  • Use your pitch to ask a question to the person you’re pitching. Questions are what make the pitch a conversation.
  • Be yourself. In all cases and contexts.
  • Be concise. Less is more!
  • Parties, concerts, exhibitions, family functions, etc. All are great practice arenas of the “pitch.”

Written by EPICS Assistant Director Colin DeKuiper, who serves as the main point of contact for students in the Master of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program.

EPICS Career Corner! Making the Most of Winter Break

Congratulations! Finals are now over and it’s time to take a much anticipated break from classes. But is it a great idea to take a break from everything school or career related during winter break? Probably not.

Winter break is a great time to invest time in your future career plans. At the very least, you’ll have something to talk about at family gatherings when your relatives ask what your plans are after Northwestern or what you plan to do with your summer.

Below are some tips to make the most of your winter break and stay on track with your internship or job search, and your overall career development.

Spend time devoted to your summer internship search.

A lot of summer application deadlines will be fast approaching in the new year so it is a great time to search for internships and prepare your application materials. Check out this article on gearing up for summer internships by EPICS Assistant Director Funmi Ojikutu.

Research potential companies for which you’d like to work.

Take this step now so when you are ready to start applying for full-time or internship opportunities, you’ll already have a list of target companies. Log into SoConnect to view the EPICS Employer Directory. You can also read this article by EPICS Assistant Director Kimberley Cornwell on researching companies.

Conduct Informational Interviews.

Picture1Networking is essentially building relationships and connections to other professionals. If you’ve ever talked to a professor, classmate, family friend, or made conversation in a social setting about what you’re studying or what you want to do with your life, you’ve already been networking!

Use an informational interview to network or connect with someone. An informational interview is essentially meeting with people who work in the industry that you are interested in to get the inside scoop, learn from their experiences, and make valuable connections. For tips on succeeding with an informational interview, read these:

So now you might be asking, “how do I find professionals that I’d be interested in meeting?” Start with your current network! Ask yourself if you have a friend, classmate, professor, former supervisor, or family member who could provide an introduction to someone. Keep in mind you have a great network of Northwestern alums you can assess as well! Fellow wildcats are usually more than willing to help current students. Use the resources below to identify NU alums:

  • Our Northwestern is an exclusive space where the NU community (alumni, students, and faculty) can connect.
  • LinkedIn Find Alumni Tool. You can search LinkedIn for alumni in your network based on location, major, company, etc.

Here’s to staying on track with your job and internship search and all the best during your winter break!

Written by EPICS Coordinator Mandi Glowen, who serves as administrator of the SoC Internship Program, and coordinates marketing, communications, and events for the EPICS office.