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During Your Internship It’s Them, Not You

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015 in Internships

ThemWhen you reach out to a potential internship host, focus on what the host might need, not what you might need.

For example, instead of writing: “Dear Organization Where I’d Like to Intern, you should let me come be your intern because I would learn a lot” write “Dear Organization Where I’d Like to Intern, you should let me come be your intern because I understand your goals and can help achieve them.”

It’s likely both statements are true – and internships definitely should be all about learning – but that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to use it in your pitch when you’re just trying to get noticed.

People, including those at the organization where you might want to do an internship, are hard wired to focus on their own needs first. So are many would be interns. You can stand out to possible mentors by going against the trend – focus first on what they want and you’ll have a better chance of getting what you want.

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What is Your Internship Sign?

Posted by on Apr 16, 2015 in Internships

SignatureYou write the nicest email to a prospective internship host, you cross all the “t”s and dot all the “i”s, you make an excellent case about you would be the best fit for the opportunity. It’s a work of art.

Then you hit send.

Did you put your contact info on there? I hope so.

Emails have a way of getting printed and forwarded, attachments (like the resume you attached) have a way of falling off. If you didn’t put your contact info in the email – it’s possible that might really hurt your chances…

– Most directly, somebody might really want to get in touch with you, but they won’t be able to because your contact info has fallen off

– It might be a choice between two candidates, yours doesn’t have your telephone number front and center, but the other one does. Who are they going to call?

– If a prospective intern host is comparing two candidates and has to make a choice – one had the foresight to add contact info and the other didn’t – guess who they’re liable to pick.

Don’t let this happen to you – be sure to put your contact info in the signature file. At least your telephone and email address – but you can be fancier/more professional. But a hyperlink to you social media sites, or even better, your website that describes in multimedia how awesome you are.

Much better than nothing at all. Show your sign!

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Top Ten Things to Think About When You Mess Up During An Internship

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Internships

OopsDid you make a mistake during your internship? Here are 10 things to think about….

1) Johnny Cash said, “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone.” Internships are about learning, and part of learning is making mistakes. You’re supposed to make mistakes during an internship. It’s how you learn.

2) Did anybody die or was anybody permanently injured? If not, don’t worry, everybody will live and it can be fixed.

3) How you handle the mistake is more important than the mistake. Own it. Take responsibility for it. Say, “this happened and it is my fault.” People rarely take responsibility for mistakes. If you do, the fact that you do will get so much attention it is likely that people won’t really focus on the mistake itself.

4) Understand that there can be a mistake that wasn’t your fault, but is still your responsibility. If you are in charge of a project and somebody you’re working with messes up such that the project falls apart, it wasn’t your fault, but it is your responsibility. Be responsible. Own up to it. Sometimes things you are responsible for fall apart and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. It happens. Understand the different between fault and responsibility.

5) If you feel like you should (and err on the side of feeling like you should) say sorry. Saying it one time is enough. Mean it when you say it.

6) It is very likely, almost certain, that you’ve made a mistake that your mentor made when they were at the same point in their career. Moreover, your mentor has probably seen other interns make this same mistake lots of times before. In a weird way, the fact that you make the mistake your mentor made at your age, and its the same mistake that others always make, can bring you closer to the person or people mentoring you during an internship.

7) Show that you have learned from the mistake. Be able to explain what you’ve learned. Take steps, that you can point to, that will keep you making the same mistake again. Write it down. Don’t hesitate to explain to your internship host how you intend to avoid the mistake again in the future.

8) If you’re mad at yourself for making the mistake, if it feels like it was a big deal, don’t be afraid to show it. Don’t get bogged down in emotion, but also don’t be afraid to let yourself feel the emotion. We learn best during highly emotional states. Take advantage of your emotions while you’re feeling them to learn from the mistake.

9) You may feel bad – have faith in the knowledge that this feeling will very much go away the next time you do something great…but until then, you’ll just have to wait.

10) The day will come when you’ll be able to laugh about this mistake. By the time that happens you will realize that the mistake you made during your internship made you stronger.

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Stop Gap Emails

Posted by on Apr 14, 2015 in Internships

Hammer LaptopThis is another one of those things that nobody ever teaches in school, but anybody who has been in the workplace for a while will likely understand.

If your supervisor or mentor emails you to ask for something, it can be very tempting to email back right away to let them know that you received the message and are on the case. But before you do, take a moment.

If the request is something that you can get done fairly quickly (provide some information or do a quick task) go ahead and do it – then write back to let the requester know that it’s done. Otherwise you wind up sending the “I’m on it email” followed very soon by “it’s done.” Better to send just the one email.

On the other hand, if the task is something that will take longer, go ahead and send that stop-gap email. When you do (if you can) – let your mentor/supervisor know when they can expect you to complete what they’ve asked.

It can be very tempting to send the stop-gap email – but the seasoned intern knows when to avoid that temptation.

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Just an Intern

Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in Internships

FingerprintI can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard an intern say something like…”oh, I’m just an intern”


That one little word may not sound like a big deal, but it is, in at least two ways:

First: if you think you are something less because you are an intern, then so will everybody else. You may have less experience, you may have less confidence, you may know less about certain things in the workplace – but that doesn’t make you less. Consider this: I guarantee that there are lots of things you know more about than everybody else in your office. Just because you know less about the workplace doesn’t make you “just.”

Second: and this is the important one. Seeing yourself as “just” is just a really limiting belief. It may seem like everybody else is more knowledgeable, has more experience, and has more confidence – it’s possible others are a little farther ahead in those areas. But I think the biggest difference that experience gives is that one realizes that everybody, to some extent – at least when it comes to dealing with people –  is just kind of pretending they know what they are doing. Either that – or they are just less afraid at the consequences of dealing with people.

My advice: be humble, be helpful, be gracious – but don’t ever consider yourself “just an intern” or “just anything,” for that matter. You’re not. You’re more than just a “just.”

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