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  • Anna Sutton 8:46 pm on April 1, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: advice, , House of Cards, , Netflix, office, quotes   

    The Real Life Intern Skills I’ve Learned from… 

    The Real Life Intern Skills I’ve Learned from Watching House of Cards

    Everyone starts out as an intern, even Frank Underwood. When the second season was released earlier this year, I binge watched the entire thing. While it’s hard to imagine holding as much power as Frank Underwood, I think we can pick up a few life lessons from the fictional king of DC.

    gif of Frank Underwood from House of Cards

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  • Anna Sutton 8:31 pm on April 1, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: advice, , , , , ,   

    Every high school senior is going to be… 

    Every high school senior is going to be nervous about college, but college is a great chance to learn about yourself and what you want to do with your life. Below are five tips for AU’s incoming class about mentors, internships, part time jobs, and more!

    American University's quad

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  • Anna Sutton 11:10 pm on March 21, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: advice, , clubs, , , ,   

    Succeeding in the District 

    When people found out that I was moving from the small Missouri town I had lived my entire life to our nation’s capital, they warned me that I wouldn’t be able to succeed unless I sold my soul to the devil.

    I am here to tell you that those people don’t know what they’re talking about and they are taking House of Cards way to seriously. While it is unfortunate we don’t all dress as well as Claire and Frank Underwood, you don’t need to be a functioning sociopath to get things done here in DC. Below are five tips that I’ve picked up while at American- (More …)

  • Erica Hilton 6:07 pm on July 30, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: advice, , , pentagon   

    The Pentagon 

    A few weeks ago, the other interns in my program and I went to the Pentagon for a meeting. While there we met with one of the Deputy Assistant Secretaries of Defense about the work his office is doing. He also walked us through the different steps and journeys that he took to achieve the career he has today.

    There was something that he said that really stood out to me. The work he does isn’t his job; it’s his passion. I’ve heard people say that before, but you could really tell by how he spoke about his work that he really and truly enjoys it. It was a nice reminder to do what makes you happy. Everything else will fall into place.

  • Zach C. Cohen 12:32 am on July 3, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: advice, , Chris Jaskinski, , ,   

    Why Interns Blog 

    Last week was the launch of the USA TODAY Interns brand. Complete with Tumblr (or is it “tumblr”?) and  Twitter accounts, this new initiative was actually started by a fellow AU intern, Chris Jasinski.

    So, in essence I’ve had to jump headlong into the Tumbling and Instagramming universe. I’ll be posting there and here regular updates on my internship.

    It’s a pretty cool project, actually. Not everybody takes the time to update others about their responsibilities as an intern. I suppose it’s fair to want avoid sounding arrogant. But let’s be honest, interns get to do some pretty amazing things. This week in the intern Tumblr, one USA TODAY intern talked about her experience reporting at the White House. That’s not bragging; it’s sharing your excitement for your work and showing your passion for what you’re doing.

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    • Jennifer Carignan 7:09 pm on July 11, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Zach, I love the idea of the Tumblr and Twitter accounts! One of the most challenging but important parts of the Career Center’s work is to find ways for interns to share their experiences with each other, as opposed to only hearing about student experiences from advisors. It looks like these tools are really productive ways to do this. I look forward to reading more!

      • Zach C. Cohen 5:02 am on July 12, 2012 Permalink

        Like USA TODAY has recognized, we can create all the content we want, and it’ll be great. But in today’s day and age, it’s crucial to go to the consumer, not the other way around. Tumblr and Twitter are only the start of that process.

  • Erica Hilton 3:13 am on June 20, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: advice, , , VA, veterans affairs   

    Intern Until You Can’t Intern Anymore! 

    Week 2 at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was just as exciting as the first. I thought the pace I was moving my first week was at record speed… until I got to week 2! Ironically, no matter how much I have going on at my internship, I’m still fully enjoying myself there. That hasn’t always been the case for me.

    I’ve had about 6 internships  before my current one at VA. Honestly, I didn’t like them all. A couple I loved. A couple I liked. A couple made me realize what I did not want to do with my life, but that was the best part about the experience.It helped me to clarify what I want out of a career.

    My advice to you is to grab as much internship experience as you can. Don’t just do two and quit. Even if you don’t like what you’re doing, put your all into it anyways! Pay your dues! These experiences are about more than just gaining recommendation letters. I have taken so much from each of my past internships and have met some really incredible people at each of them. Each helped me to determine what I love to do, got me to where I am now and will help me to achieve my ultimate career goal.


    • Jennifer Carignan 4:21 pm on June 26, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Erica, I really appreciate your perspective on how a less-than-ideal internship can help to clarify your career goals. With six internships, it’s clear that you’ve really had the chance to test your assumptions about what you do and do not enjoy. Even when things don’t turn out like you thought they would, there are almost always other positives, such as the new connections and relationships you mention above. And those are often just as important as completing your day-to-day work.

  • Lizzie 10:41 pm on June 10, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: advice, ,   

    Tips for Success 

    The Washington Post published an article with advice for summer interns this summer. Read it here. As I read it, I realized they left out a few tips. So here are some things I’ve learned from my past and current internships.

    1. Take Lunch: In the fast paced world of Washington, DC many people in offices don’t take lunch. They might run out to the Corner Bakery to grab a sandwich they eat at their desk while continuing to work.  I’ve done the “eat at my desk so I look more productive” intern dance and I’m here to tell you it’s not that great. First of all, when you don’t take lunch you don’t get a needed break. The days when I escape the office and spend 30 minutes in the park enjoying sunshine and a magazine, I am far more productive when I return! So do your best to take a break – even if its only 30 minutes.  (More …)
    • Jennifer Carignan 2:51 pm on June 26, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Lizzie, this is wonderful advice! I especially like your second point. The office is a great place to network, both with fellow interns as well as permanent staff. I always encourage students to take colleagues up on offers to meet informally (and maybe even during lunch!), whether to provide career advice or simply to learn more about each others interests and passions. Networking is so important in DC, and starting with your coworkers can be less intimidating than other methods.

      Good work!

  • Brittany Horowitz 11:01 pm on April 19, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: advice, 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.


    • 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.

  • Claire Wolfe 5:35 pm on March 16, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: advice, , ,   

    A Couple Pieces of Advice 

    There are so many pieces of advice I could give about interning.  Let’s be real though, you’ve heard them all before.  Be professional, work hard, be on time, no complaints, the list goes on and on.  I’m not saying that all those things aren’t important, because they are, but you already know them.  These are things you’ve learned throughout your life, skills and rules that don’t only apply to interning, but to everyday living. 

     That being said, I only have two pieces of advice to give.  One is exclusive to interning and work, the other is a little broader.

    1. Always, always have a pen on you.  I know, my number one piece of advice is this.  What do I know?  It sounds dumb but I swear that it’s not.  Every time I talk to my supervisor, there is something that needs to be written down.  I am bombarded with so much information in just one conversation that I leave her office a nervous mess, unless I write it all down.  With my pen in hand, I’m cool, calm, and collected (well, as cool, calm, and collected as I ever am).  There is nothing scarier than having to go back to my supervisor’s office and ask her to repeat what she had just told me.  One time doing this is all that it took for me to realize how important it is to write everything down. Trust me on this one.
    2. So, this might be a little cliché, but still, it remains my second piece of advice.  Don’t be shy.  Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself or ask somehow how they are.  I don’t care if they are the boss or another intern.  I think it’s most important to remember that everyone is a person and, sure, they may be so intimidating, but you won’t get noticed unless you make an effort to.  They will be impressed if you take the initiative to introduce yourself.  Plus, you never know who you are going to meet.  Maybe someone who will change your life.  Whether it is someone who could land you a job someday, a new friend, or simply a friendly face to say hi to as you pass in the hallway.  Bottom line, you never know.  What do you have to lose?
  • Elyssa Shildneck 1:22 am on February 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: advice, capitol tours, congressman, constituents, , , , summer internship, , vince lombardi   

    Advice: From One Intern to Another 

    Advice is one of the many things I’ve taken from each internship. This advice has come in many different forms and from a variety of people. I received the most advice during my summer internship on the hill. As the youngest intern in the office, I received advice from staff, other interns, professionals meeting with the Congressman and even constituents that I gave Capitol Tours.

    Now that I’ve had a variety of internships, I would like to think I have my own set of advice to bestow on others.

    Here is what I’ve learned in my years as an intern:

    1) Be early! Live by the words of Vince Lombardi “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late don’t bother showing up” It shows commitment and initiative to be the first in the office. This may seem small but your supervisor and other staff will take notice. I’m not a morning person, so I like to have some extra time to wake up prior to interacting with other people.

    2) Share your opinion! I think we can all agree that in a certain respect D.C. would not be the city it is without interns. So if you have an opinion share it. You never know if ideas might be used for a new project or initiative. If you’re too intimidated to share you opinion, then you may be interning in the wrong office.

    3) Buy lunch once a week. Sadly many of us intern without pay but you should try to find a way to go out to lunch with other interns or staff in your office. During lunch you can develop  personal relationships with the people you interaction with on a daily basis. It is not good to sit at a desk all day and the relationships you develop at an internship can transform your experience in that organization.

    4) Do not browse gchat, facebook, your personal twitter account, or any shopping website all day. This pretty much goes without saying.  Even if you see staff going it, do not assume that it is okay to do. Regardless of how you are treated in an office, you are still an intern. Along with that, do not tweet about or post a status about your internship that can be negatively misconstrued.

    5) Be conscious of what you say about your internship outside of the office! You never know who can hear you and who that person may know. Everyone knows someone!

    6) Do not talk about drinking in your office, no matter how close you think you are to your supervisor, it is not professional.

    7) Dress for the job you want, not the job you have! If you would not wear the outfit to church or around your grandmother then its probably not appropriate for the office. Try the fingertip test for your skirt length. As for men… for the love of god, do not wear sneakers with a suit!! Ironing, although annoying, is a useful tool for life. If you don’t know how to iron, try youtube- they have tutorials.

    For now that’s the essential advice I have for interns. Stay tuned to hear more!

    • Francine Blume 1:54 pm on March 8, 2012 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Fabulous advice! Where did you come up with this? Is this as a result of your own experiences? Did you see other interns falling into these traps and get in trouble for it?

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