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  • Brittany Horowitz 2:37 am on April 26, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Farewell! 

    It has been a great year of blogging for the Career Center. I have enjoyed it so much. Writing all of these posts made me reflect on the internship experiences I have had this year and even further in my past. I have learned a lot, and I was happy to share my experiences with the public. I hope my posts helped those out there interested in interning or currently interning. As a graduating senior, my biggest advice is to intern, intern, intern! You get to try new jobs over and over again – it’s seriously such a lucky thing. Take advantage of it! Thank you for reading!

    B.

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  • Brittany Horowitz 11:27 pm on April 20, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , professors, , thank you   

    Always Say Thank You 

    Another piece of advice that I received from an SOC professor that is so simple yet often overlooked is to always say thank you. Remember, during your internship, your bosses and coworkers are taking the time to educate you in an industry you are interested in, and you are gaining a lot of knowledge that others would really appreciate. It is important to show others that you are not taking your lucky opportunity for granted. By showing appreciation, those you work with will appreciate you even more.

    Snail mail and handwritten notes have become things of the past, but I still enjoy sending and receiving mail to friends and families. It shows a little extra effort and time was put into sending a message, which is why I always write handwritten thank you notes to those I worked with for the semester. I also make sure to write genuine notes because there is nothing worse than receiving a letter that appears rushed and copy and pasted from previous thank you letters. By pointing out something you really enjoyed about the internship or a piece of knowledge you gained, you’re showing the company that you actually benefited from the position. A genuine and meaningful card can go a long way, for it can leave a lasting impression. Anyone can write a quick email, but people get so many emails these days that they are quickly read and then deleted. You want to make sure your departure from a position is not quickly forgotten like an email in a spam box. You want to be remembered.

    B.

     
  • Brittany Horowitz 11:01 pm on April 19, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , connecting, , , office etiquette,   

    Stay Connected 

    A professor of mine just gave my class some great advice for when we enter the professional world after graduating, but a lot of the tips also apply to those interning now. One piece of advice really stuck out in my mind, and I thought I’d share.

    She recommended, “Let your coworkers and bosses know where you are. If you need to be away from your desk for a while, then leave a note, shoot an email, or write a message on your whiteboard. Don’t leave people wondering where you went.”

    This advice really made me think because I had never really thought about how important it is to stay connected with who you work with while in the office. You might just assume people know what you’re doing or where you are. It’s such a simple thing that most people probably overlook. However, what if your boss comes looking for you to assign an important task, but you are never at your desk? You are probably off working on an assignment, or you stepped out of the office to complete a task that another coworker gave you. Unfortunately, if you never tell people where you’re going or what you’re doing they might think you’re flakey, or they might think you’re off getting your nails done or making personal phone calls.

    Appearing unreliable or disconnected from the workplace is a terrible reputation to build, so make sure to remember to stay connected. It’s as simple as leaving a note for others to see along with your cell phone number attached. If you’re out of the office completing an assignment, make sure to leave your cell phone on in case anyone needs to reach you immediately. By being available, your coworkers will want to connect with you rather than disconnect you from what is going on in the office.

    B.

     
    • John Charles 3:49 pm on April 23, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      This is an excellent piece of advice, Brittany. Sometimes perception is stronger than reality, so it is smart to state explicitly where you are and what you are doing.

  • Brittany Horowitz 12:02 am on April 17, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Trying New Things 

    When in college, students like to explore their options by interning, which is especially true at American University. However, many students tend to think that they need to intern with companies or organizations that completely compliment their majors and/or minors. Of course, it is smart to intern with places that interest you and that will teach you important skills and information about your future workplace industry, but I don’t think students should be scared to branch out and experiment in areas that are outside of their areas of study.

    How will you ever know if you like something if you don’t try it? In the beginning of the year, I had been contemplating going to law school after graduating, but I had never interned in an area revolving around law. So, I took on an internship that allowed me explore the law field. Most importantly, I made sure this position did not seem completely out of place on my resume by having the position involve my minor as well. In the end, I have been able to learn about law while also combining it with another one of my interests and areas of study.

    When exploring options that are outside of your comfort zone or area of knowledge, it can be useful to use resources that AU has available to students. I suggest going to the Career Center and seeing if an advisor can point you in the right direction. Also, the Career Center has a library full of information on how to get a job and other important industry basics. I also suggest asking professors for help. If you’re looking for a position outside of the school you study within, then there is no harm in exploring the other AU school web sites and professor information pages. There might be a professor or staff member who is perfect for helping you. You just need to do your research! Lastly, as a School of Communication student, I am a strong supporter of using Twitter to connect with people. Tweet about a position you’re interested in, and you might be surprised by how many people are willing to help.

    B.

     

     
  • Brittany Horowitz 1:53 am on April 16, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    Listen and Learn 

    Sometimes students can forget that internships are meant for learning. People get caught up with opportunities of networking and getting a foot in the door, but internships should be used to learn from the company or organization a student is with. During college, students get the chance to test out professions and see if they like them. That is a luxury, which is why I suggest doing as many internships as possible to get a feel for various companies or areas of a field.

    That being said, students should take advantage of this great opportunity to learn by listening up and asking questions! I am a strong believer in sticking to the following advice whenever you are going to your internship:

    1. Be positive – no one likes a negative employee who doesn’t appear to be enjoying their time with a company

    2. Ask questions – you’re there to learn, so ask questions to increase your knowledge and decrease your chances of making mistakes

    3. Talk – you don’t want to be known as the silent intern, so speak up in meetings, discussions in the lunch room, wherever you see an opportunity to make an intelligent comment, etc.

    4. Enjoy criticism – instead of looking at it as criticism, you should view any suggestions or corrections by your boss as critiques. From these critiques, you will be able to improve your work!

    5. Volunteer – it’s important to take the initiative and see what you can do for anyone in your department. They will be thankful, and you will be remembered.

    These are some tips that I follow and find useful in my internship experience. I hope they help others too!

    -Brittany

     
  • Brittany Horowitz 11:37 pm on March 27, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions 

    At the beginning of a new position, it can feel like you’re in a foreign country when you walk into your new office. New faces, new work practices, new rules, and the list goes on. It’s important to remember that asking question is vital in becoming adjusted to your new environment and surroundings. If you don’t ask questions, then you’re more likely to make mistakes.

    It can be intimidating to ask certain “silly” questions, such as how to use the phones or company rules for lunch breaks; however, how will you ever know the answers if you don’t ask? If you make a mistake while setting up a conference call for the whole office, or if you’re gone too long for your lunch break, it is not a valid excuse when you say, “I didn’t know.” Just ask! It’ll be a weight off of your shoulders once you learn about how the office runs, and then you’ll be less likely to make easy to avoid mistakes.

    Lastly, don’t start asking a million questions until you have read your company’s office handbook or rule book. Usually, a company will have an FAQs document that goes over basic office information, such as dress code and sick leave protocol. It would be bothersome to your HR department to have to answer questions that have already been written out for your convenience. Don’t make that amateur mistake. Try to see if the answers are available first, then seek further assistance when necessary. All in all, gaining new information will make adjusting to a new office even easier!

    B.

     
  • Brittany Horowitz 2:34 am on March 21, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    This isn’t what I signed up for 

    I am lucky enough to say that I have never had a bad internship experience. My positions have always met or exceeded my expectations, and the types of work I have been assigned have always been educational and interesting. However, in high school, I did have random after-school jobs that did not always live up to the job descriptions I was first given by my future bosses, so I know what it is like to feel unhappy about a new position.

    It’s awful when you expect your job to be an educational and beneficial experience, and then you end up having to get employees coffee or make pages after pages of copies for your boss. I have heard horror stories.

    The good news is, there is a solution! It is unfortunate when it comes to this point, but even as an intern you have the right to speak up. Of course, I don’t recommend rushing into your supervisor’s office and complaining/yelling/whining/crying. Instead, you can voice your concern in a professional manner. Explain what expectations you had for the position, and carefully outline the types of tasks you thought you were going to be given. You shouldn’t be demanding or bossy, obviously.

    Your supervisor might not realize that you are unhappy with the tasks that you have been given thus far, so if you don’t speak up changes will not be made. Internships are supposed to be for learning and for gaining experience before you enter the job market, so make the most of your position. You won’t learn anything from sitting around unhappily counting down the minutes until your day is over. Instead, learn how to speak up. That in itself is a learning experience.

    -B.

     
  • Brittany Horowitz 2:04 am on March 20, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    Common Mistakes Made by Interns 

    After having a handful of internships throughout my college career, I have gained a lot of knowledge on what is appropriate behavior and what should be avoided in the professional world. I sometimes forget that there are students who have never interned before, or who have never worked in an office environment before, so they are unaware of the damaging mistakes they are making from day one. Here are some of my tips for great office etiquette:

    Dress appropriately: What exactly does “appropriately” even mean? It means, if you look in the mirror in the morning and ask yourself, “Hmm, is this okay for work?” then don’t wear it. Don’t wear it if it’s too short/too casual/too wrinkled/too old/too tight – the list goes on. No one says that you need to go out and buy an entire new wardrobe in order to look appropriate for your job. Not everyone can afford that. As long as you look like you put effort into your appearance and didn’t just roll out of bed, then I think you’re in the clear. Take note of what others wear in your office, and then dress similarly. If it’s business casual, then go for it. Just make sure you never look out of place.

    Put the cell phone down (and on silent): You weren’t hired to text all day. If that were the case, then every college student would be qualified for your position. Prove to your bosses that you care about your role in the office, and leave your text messages for your lunch break or after you leave the office. You don’t want to become known as, “That intern who was always on their phone.” It’s unprofessional to focus on your private life when you are supposed to be focusing on your work. If there is an actual personal emergency that you need to take care of, then step outside and take your phone call. Lastly, put your phone on silent. No one wants to hear your ringer go off throughout the day. Vibrate counts too. Sometimes, that is even louder and annoying.

    Don’t be late: I cringe at the thought of someone walking into the office late. It’s even worse when they are casual about it and don’t realize how unprofessional their behavior really is. Being on time is not that difficult. It’s all about time management. It is one thing if you’re accidently late because of uncontrollable circumstances, such as delays on the Metro or a personal emergency; however, Starbucks being really crowded during your morning coffee run or snoozing your alarm seven times do not count as valid excuses. If you make a habit out of being late, then your boss will make a habit out of leaving you out of important office projects. It’s only fair. Being late shows that you do not care about being professional, and why should such behavior be rewarded? It’s the little things that really reflect your attitude towards your job. Don’t mess this one up.

    B.

     
  • Brittany Horowitz 4:20 pm on March 15, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , commuting, , , ,   

    Commuting Costs 

    There are a lot of important components to take into consideration when choosing an internship and job. I have always focused on the obvious characteristics: position responsibilities, reputation of the company, pay, and the list goes on. However, when I first started to intern, which was the summer after my freshman year of college, I did not take an important factor into mind: commuting. I would choose the positions that best suited what I desired in an internship, and then I would worry about the commute later. I have loved each and every one of my internships; however, I wish I had been better prepared for the commutes I had in store.

    I am the commuting queen, but I did not gain this title easily. One summer, I commuted from New Jersey to New York five days a week for a position. Another summer, I traveled from American University to Alexandria five days a week for an internship, and I would need to be in the office by 8AM. Last semester, I commuted to Silver Spring from my apartment near campus; however, I had a car, so it wasn’t that bad. This semester, I am commuting a shorter distance by bus.

    Looking at a commute of a potential job is important for multiple reasons. People typically just think of time spent traveling to and from work; however, there is more to it than just that. Of course, time is vital. If you have an hour commute each way, what time do you have to wake up in the morning? Are you getting home from work at a good hour? Will you have time to fulfill the responsibilities you have for classes? People might assume that those who prefer to sleep in a little extra in the AM are lazy; however, that isn’t necessarily true. Some people function better at later hours in the day, so they go to bed late, which makes getting up extremely early tough. A long commute probably isn’t the best for these types of people.

    What about cost? When I was first offered my internship last semester, I automatically assumed my commute to Silver Spring would be do-able since I have a car, but I didn’t factor in gas money and parking. I ended up saving time by driving, and the cost wasn’t too extreme compared to metro prices, but these are things to take into consideration early on.

    Lastly, there is quality of life. It might sound silly, but a commute can really drain a person. Traveling to NY from NJ was exhausting. When I commuted via train to Alexandria, I was always in a rush, and I hated switching lines (less nap time). At times, I have hated my commutes, which made me hate going into work on occasional painful Monday mornings.

    However, my passion for my jobs really helped me survive my commutes. You make friends with fellow commuters, you get to greet the Express newspaper man every morning, and you learn your way around the city. And, you value sleeping in on the weekends even more.

    -Brittany

     
  • Brittany Horowitz 7:07 pm on March 13, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: budgeting, expenses, , ordering out,   

    Managing meals while interning: Where did all my money go? 

    While interning, there is the added stress of worrying about what to
    eat during your workday. Swipes are no longer an option, and
    Eaglebucks can only take you so far. It is so easy to grab a coffee
    and bagel on the way to work and then to get a sandwich for lunch in
    between meetings. However, by the time you are on your commute home
    you realize you somehow spent almost $20 during your nine to five
    workday. How is that possible? Multiply that by how many days you work
    a month, and you’ll want to faint at the total. I am guilty of such
    behavior. Sometimes I am lazy, and I don’t feel like packing a lunch,
    or I will be in a rush in the morning, so I skip breakfast at home and
    make a pit stop at Starbucks before work. Unfortunately, my bank
    account started to seriously be affected by my behavior, so I needed
    to change up my routine.

    It’s okay to treat yourself to that morning coffee you so look forward
    to before work, but then it’s smart to pack a lunch to help balance
    out your behavior. Or vice versa – pack breakfast so that you can
    enjoy something different for lunch. Creating a budget for yourself is
    also really smart. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on a
    weekly basis, and then trim out those occasional coffees or pricey
    gourmet salads to help make the cut. Bringing snacks to work is also
    good because it’ll help curve your cravings in between meals, and
    you’ll be able to avoid expensive vending machines. If you have a meal
    plan, then I would recommend utilizing your Eaglebucks and Dining
    Dollars at on campus stores to stock up on snacks or lunch options. By
    doing so, you won’t be spending your own money, and you’ll be able to
    responsibly use your meal plan money. Dining options around corporate
    areas tend to hike up their prices because they know busy workers will
    pay anything to quickly grab a bite in between work; however, don’t
    get tricked! Check to see if discounts are given to local employees,
    or see if there are lunch specials to save money. Lastly, utilize
    daily deal websites to see if there are local eateries offering
    discounts. By doing so, you can save a lot of money!

    These slight changes in your routine will make a big difference in
    your wallet. A coffee here and a bag of chips there can really add up,
    so don’t get sucked into this bad habit! You can enjoy yourself while
    also easing the tension on your bank account.

    -B.

     
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