My supervisor wears polo shirts, the VP of my department wears dresses, and one of the other interns wears ball caps. It can be near impossible to understand the “business casual” look, especially for women. How short can your skirt be? How high is too high of a heel? It’s 90 degrees out, do I seriously have to wear a bolero with this dress? Here are a few tips on how to navigate that tricky professional work wear.
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AU doesn’t have a small price tag. Ranked as the second most expensive school in the country, it takes a pretty big chunk of change to attend our school. However, AU isn’t oblivious to this fact: over 80% of incoming freshman received financial aid and distributes almost $75 million to students. I’m a Frederick Douglass Scholarship recipient, and that money really helps me be able to attend AU.
So what does this have to do with my internship? Today on Good Day Philadelphia, we had a segment on universities and scholarships. A financial expert came in and talked about all the ways that parents can find “hidden money” for their students. On top of that, I was asked to come on the show and talk about my experience as a student! I wore my AU hoodie and spoke about the advisors we have who can help you navigate the financial aid maze. Probably not my best television debut (should have worn my contacts to get rid of glasses glare!), but it was a lot of fun and I’m glad I was able to represent our school. Everyone knows college is expensive, but there are ways to make it a little more bearable.
I’ve been asked a lot recently — by friends in the U.S., by American friends in Costa Rica, by Costa Rican friends in Costa Rica — why I’m continuing my internship at PBS MediaShift while studying abroad at la Universidad Nacional.
It’s a two-pronged answer, one answer more honorable than the other.
I am fortunate enough that I have two jobs this summer: my unpaid internship and a paying part-time job. While I might be drinking a little too much coffee, my part-time job allows me a little more financial stability. For those of us who are working the unpaid gauntlet, here are a few tips on surviving the summer.
In some workplaces, there’s free coffee in the break room. Every once in a while, it’ll be Bob’s birthday or Janice’s retirement and you’ll be treated to some cake. Maybe your employer even springs for bagels on Friday mornings.
At my internship? There’s always food in the newsroom.
One of the first things I learned working for a major news network is that people love the free publicity that comes from a camera. On our morning show, Good Day Philadelphia, people are constantly sending in treats, just because our talent may give them a ten second shout out on air. If we run a package with any type of business, you can be certain that there will be goodies waiting in the newsroom. Interviewed a local bakery about their award-winning cupcakes? Expect four dozen of them in the newsroom. Traveled down to the Jersey shore to do a segment on their recovery from Hurricane Sandy? You’ll be traveling back with four pounds of saltwater taffy.
In my weeks of working for FOX 29, I’m first to know about breaking news, I’m on first-name basis with local celebrities, and I’ve held a ball python. But one of my favorite parts of the day will always be heading up to the newsroom to scope out local cuisine.
That’s what one passenger asked me on my most recent interstate bus trip. I don’t consider myself an IT specialist, but I’m honored by the misunderstanding.
I traveled often this summer, back and forth to my home in D.C. and spending time with family in New Jersey and New York City. On this particular bus ride, I was on deadline for a story on the Knight Foundation News Challenge’s #OpenGov grant winners.
I usually write my stories for PBS directly in our content management system so I can format the story with pictures and links as I’m writing the content.
It’s a lot easier than the alternative, which is handwriting all of the basic formatting code in HTML (bold, italicized, links, video embeds, etc.) But Internet was unreliable on that bus, so writing the story along with the code in plain text made more sense.
A year or so ago, that would have been inconceivable for me. I’m no Luddite, but I’m certainly not a tech genius. I still don’t consider myself fluent in code. But from my time in classes at AU, internships and at The Eagle has slowly taught me some basics.
In fact, every single internship I’ve ever had has require that I produce my own stories online.
Those online skills, rudimentary as they might be, have been a huge boon for me. I work in an industry that requires digital literacy, and I’m happy that I have started that path. I’ve also gotten some practice in audio editing from my work in Latin Pulse, and all of those help me become a better journalist.
And code, like any language, is one best learned by practice, not in lectures. In this regard, the value of hands-on education in this regard, whether on the newsroom, in the classroom, or on a bus, cannot be overstated.
My past two internships have been in an office, where I’ve had a morning and afternoon commute, had a limited lunch break, had to wear a suit, etc.
Doesn’t sound that appealing.
But working from home has its own difficulties and opportunities.
Titles, both lofty and lowly, on a résumé really don’t make much of a difference.
Yes, more grandiose titles are a great ego boost (the same applies to the name of the organization attached to that title).
But your actual experience means much, much more than that. No use being a “fellow” if you’re only getting coffee. And “interns” do plenty more than that.
Case in point: I’m basically an assistant producer at PBS MediaShift‘s Mediatwits podcast, and I haven’t graduated from college yet. On a weekly basis, I:
- Pitch ideas for the weekly rundown,
- Write more promotions for Twitter, Facebook and Google+ than I care to count,
- Facilitate conversation between panelists live during the podcast behind the scenes by pitching new angles and counterpoints,
- Compile research (relevant stories, primary source material, etc.) on the topics for the audience and for the panel,
- Moniter and curate audience engagement before and during the podcast,
- Produce the podcast’s presence on the MediaShift website, Google+, YouTube and Soundcloud
For each one of these episodes, the only duties I don’t have are approving the final rundown, moderating conversation on air, and recruiting guests, all of which are Mark Glaser‘s domain, though the latter is in the realm of possibility as a future responsibility.
All of those bulleted obligations will be listed on my résumé, but they won’t be joined with the illustrious title of “assistant producer.” I’m a podcasting intern, and there’s no use in lying about that. (Not to mention, Mark would be pretty confused if he got a call from HR somewhere looking to hire me and suddenly found out he had an assistant producer. Blindsiding a former boss like that is not a great idea).
In some ways, that’s disappointing. Who doesn’t like a nifty new title on their résumé?
But future employers value the experience if the responsibilities are clearly laid out. Titles can be misleading, and employers know that. They hire people and skills, not titles, histories or biographies.
Using all the same tricks of writing a good résumé apply in making sure you, not your title, stand out. Using strong verbs and precisely laying out both responsibilities and results are crucial to conveying any applicant’s indispensability.
Show, don’t tell, your expertise, and an internship can be the reason for your next promotion.
It’s always an odd balance to strike: As a student, I’ve always valued summer as time to relax and not worry about homework or other academic responsibilities.
But for the past two summers, I have not done that. I have worked, often fulltime, in order to get more work or internship experience under my belt. Evenings were my only time to do anything but work. And even then, sometimes my internship flooded over into home. I even had a summer class last year in the evenings, and readings for that often took up any time I would have had to read for fun.