The Good Intern
New Year, New Goals
The First Day
Posted by Michelle Pence - - 3 comments

Whether small or grandiose, the office holiday party is something the intern should never miss out on, and not for the reasons you might expect.

Even if you are an intern that just finished a semester internship with a company, the holiday party is something you should definitely still attend, as long as you were invited of course (crashers are never cool).

Word on the street may be that the office holiday party is a blast, but resist the temptation to throw on your reindeer antlers and light-up Christmas sweater and take some of my advice.  You can find tons of office party horror stories all over the web about Bob from accounting who had a few too many and ending up passing out on the buffet table, just like you can find countless tips about how you should avoid greasy foods and not drink alcohol, but honestly... the secret to making the most of the office holiday party is to just BE YOURSELF AND HAVE FUN.

Office parties are excellent opportunities for interns to socialize with people from work outside of the office setting and to display a whole new set of skills... social skills!  Although the party is still technically a professional event, you have the freedom to let the conversations flow to topics that interest you and to get to know co-workers on a more personal basis.  An excellent trait to possess is being comfortable in social situations and appearing confident and personable, so use the holiday party as an excuse to show off your ability to socialize professionally.  The end goal of socializing at the party should be to leave with stronger relationships with co-workers than when you arrived, but make sure you're still having fun and enjoying yourself in the process.  Once you're at the party, approach someone you have always wanted to get to know a little bit better and strike up a conversation.  Later on, do the same thing with someone you maybe haven't quite hit it off with yet in the office, but want to try to form a relationship with.

Here are some tips for office party schmoozing:

  • Avoid trying too hard to make a good impression on people... especially your boss.  Let the casual setting mellow you out and encourage you to act naturally, but professionally.
  • Don't monopolize one person's time and exit conversations on a high note.  Letting a conversation awkwardly fizzle out might totally reverse the social progress you made with someone, so after a few minutes of chatting excuse yourself politely and move on.
  • Stay away from any topics that have the potential to offend someone or lead to a heavy conversation, such as politics, religion, or dirty jokes.  People want to celebrate with positive people, not Debbie Downers or argumentative types. 
  • Definitely approach your boss, even though you may feel a bit hesitant.  This is the main person you want to show your confidence and charisma to, but keep this conversation the shortest unless your boss gives you cues to continue.  The head honcho is usually a hot commodity at the party and doesn't have a lot of time to spend with just one person.
  • If you don't know someone, introduce yourself!  Now is your chance to get your name out there and get to know people you never had the chance to meet before.  Network like there's no tomorrow!
  • Remember your good intern etiquette and thank the host, or whoever planned the party, for inviting you and for doing such a great job organizing the event.  A nice thank you note afterwards never hurts either.
  • Never complain about the company or gossip, even if the person you're talking to is going on and on about something negative.  I usually just nod my head and smile until the person gets the point that I'm not going to say anything back and changes the topic.
  • Be yourself!  Don't stress out trying to make yourself look great while you're mingling with people.  Although you might be able to sneak in some personal accomplishments or goals here or there, let them come to the surface on their own and just focus on having a good conversation.  

Dress Shirt & A Killer Suit
I have full faith that any aspiring good intern will know the basics of professional behavior that is still expected at the office holiday party. 

It's my policy that if you are over 21 and other people are drinking alcohol at the party it's completely acceptable to have a cocktail, just drink in moderation and know your limits.  Even if everyone else starts to get a little out of control, hold back and keep in mind that you want to protect your reputation... and your job as an intern.  You don't need alcohol to have fun, right?  

Forever21 Polished Cocktail Dress 
Also, don't forget to keep the party attire professional, even though the dress code may be more festive and casual than the average work day.  Although the men's outfit pictured to the left is outrageously expensive for an intern, you get the idea, plus the caption on the website explained it perfectly by saying, "Always dress like the man in charge- especially when you're not".  Ladies need to really make sure that their ensembles are not too revealing (you don't want that kind of attention), but it's completely okay to play around with bright colors and different jewelry.

The best advice I can give you is to be yourself, have fun, and leave the reindeer antlers at home!


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When foursquare first started getting popular I remember thinking, "What is the world coming to?!"  I just couldn't understand why people would want to constantly pinpoint their location on a map for everyone to see.  To each their own, but I just didn't get it.

For those of you who aren't familiar,  foursquare is an application that lets you "check in" to places you visit via your phone.  You just download the application and it uses your phone's GPS to find exactly where you're at, business name and all.  foursquare then automatically publishes the places you visit to Twitter or Facebook, depending on your settings.  According to foursquare's website, the application is meant to be a city guide and friend-finder as well as a game since it rewards users for visiting new places.

As time went by I decided what the heck, and created an account.  Although it irked me when my Facebook homepage was bombarded with people checking in to every single place they went (home, the grocery store, etc.), I started to see a possible professional use for the application.

For my current internship I get to travel a little bit and sometimes visit some interesting places, so I decided that foursquare would be an easy way to let people know what I'm up to professionally.  I also started to use foursquare for social purposes too, but with a little discretion.  When I was in Washington D.C. the other week I checked in to the different places we visited so people could see what I was up to.  You'll never see me check in at the gas station or Walmart, but I do like to publicize any neat places I get to visit.

I guess the moral of the story is to make social media work for you.  Instead of thinking of foursquare as a strictly social application, try to look at it's professional possibilities.  As long as you set it up so that only your friends can see the places you check in to and you follow my advice on discretion, there really is no drawback.

I bet that the next time you end up somewhere pretty cool for an event or business opportunity you get the urge to foursquare... it's pretty addicting.

Do you use foursquare?  If so, what type of places do you check in to and do you agree with my train of thought?

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Washington D.C. for Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity's National Conference, that's where!

Taking a much needed break from the stress of applying to law school I was able to take a few days off from classes and my internship to jet set to D.C. for half a week with Missouri State University's P.A.D Pre-Law chapter.

Between frantically trying to figure out the metro and playing super tourist by taking pictures of anything that looked remotely historical or important, I actually learned some things that didn't only relate to law school.

On our itinerary I had noticed that one of the presentations we would be attending was about student leadership and was called "One Year to Make It Happen". The speaker, Pete Mockaitis, had led nine different student organizations while he was in school and seeing a connection with the eight internships under my belt I immediately thought, "I need to meet this guy!"

It turned out that he was young and hilarious and did a really great job of connecting with the audience during his presentation. The focus was all about the right way to set goals and how to make the most out of your one year in a leadership position for an organization.  He even agreed to sit down with me later on and tell me a little bit more about his background and how he got to where he is today (Hint: An internship helped him get a job at an elite consulting firm out of college).

I would strongly recommend checking out his website and looking at the different presentations he offers through CAMPUSPEAK if you are ever in need of a great speaker on student leadership.

On a side note, here are some recommendations for great food places to visit if you ever find yourself in DC:
-Aqua Al 2- An awesome little Italian restaurant on Capitol Hill that has really authentic ltalian food and has a location in Florence, Italy.
-Old Ebbitt Grill- This old historic bar and grill is known for the politicians and VIPs who frequent it to talk politics.
-Eastern Market- Also located on Capitol Hill, this funky market is filled with fresh meat, produce, and the best thing... a bakery! Try the jumbo black and white cookies.
-Ben's Chili Bowl- It's a total dive, but this chili place is a favorite of the Obama family and Bill Cosby and has a really cool atmosphere.

I'm still toying with the idea of interning in D.C. this coming summer so if there are any Capitol Hill interns out there I'd love to hear all about your experiences and any recommendations you have!
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Looking for that dream internship?  Here are 10 awesome internships that you can apply for right now.- Her Campus

Who doesn't love a good to-do list?  How to maximize your intern efficiency.- The Intern View

In job interviews, what you don't say can be just as important as what you do say.- From College to Cubicle

Have you been to your campus Career Center?  If not, check it out pronto!- Her Campus

Interning after graduation is getting more common these days.  Here are 5 qualities to look for in a post-grad internship.- The Intern View

For anybody with more activities than they can fit on a two-page resume, here are some tips for what activities hurt more than they help.- Her Campus
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As the weather turns cold, students across the country are either nicely settled into their fall internships or trying to make it through the last few weeks of school before the holiday season begins.  One of the last things on many people's minds may be thinking about a summer internship.  While it may only be November there are tons of things you could be doing right now to put you ahead of the game come internship season in the Spring.

Make a list

Now is a great time to start thinking about where exactly you would like to intern for the summer.  My suggestion is to create a spreadsheet in Excel or a similar program and record information such as the company name, contact person, phone number, email, deadline for applications, etc.  This will greatly help you stay on track and prevent deadlines from slipping your mind.  Be sure to include a range of companies, from your dream internships to more realistic options.  You can put as many companies as you want on your initial list and narrow it down later once you've had a chance to decide what you're really looking for.  Applying for at least ten internships is a good goal to ensure that you have several options available to you.

So you want to intern for The Washington Post, eh?

If you have dreams of interning for a large company, believe it or not, the time to start applying is now.  Many companies have November deadlines for applications, or dates close to that.  These internships tend to be highly competitive so pay close attention to deadlines and other requirements.

Get everything in order

Having an up-to-date resume will be vital when it comes time for interviews and submitting applications in the Spring.  If your resume is not already up-to-date, add the new information and see if your school's Career Center offers to review students' resumes- often times they do.  Having a second pair of eyes proof-read your resume is always a good idea and the professionals at many Career Centers do a great job of making sure students' resumes are appropriate for the type of internship they will be applying for.

The fall is also a great time for compiling several letters of recommendations.  Aim to have three letters of recommendations on hand for interviews and applications.
Check out my article on how to score a killer letter of recommendation
Professors whose class you did really well in and seemed to connect with usually make great references as well as professional contacts you have from past jobs or internships.

Start researching

If you have a company in mind that you would really like to intern for or a company you want to find out more about, doing some research now is a smart move to get to know the business.  Besides exploring the company website in-depth, connect with them on any social media sites they are a part of, including Facebook and Twitter.  What the company tweets is usually a good indicator of what's going on more recently and what their general attitude is.  You will be able to use this information during applications and interviews to show that you have a good idea of what the company is like and why you would be a good fit.

CALLING ALL FORMER INTERNS- Based on your previous experience, what would you recommend potential interns start doing now to prepare for summer internships?
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Starting a new internship can be scary on it's own, but starting a new internship and receiving hardly any guidance is a nightmare!  Believe it or not, I've been faced with the dilemma of having to teach myself the ropes a couple of times.  Whether certain employers feel that their interns are self-sufficient enough to figure things out on their own, or just don't have the time to lay out the welcome mat, the fact is that as an intern you need to possess certain survival skills just in case you end up having to fend for yourself.

Pay attention

A good habit in any situation is to get a feel for the office environment as soon as possible.  With a little observation you should be able to tell how employees communicate with each other, what the relationship is like between employees and the boss, how casual the setting is, etc.  Being attentive should help you fit right in.  If you're tucked away in a cubicle where it's a little more difficult to view the interactions, use your initial conversations with the staff to make some strategic observations, or simply ask what you should expect.

Realize when you're being tested

More than once I have had an employer who seemed to like to "test" new interns, trying to determine how much they can handle.  If you are given a pile of paper the size of Mt. Everest to file or are delegated some other impossible task before you've even warmed your new seat, don't freak out.  Realize that it might be a test to see how you react in a stressful situation.  Overcome the situation by staying calm and working through it.  Becoming stressed or anxious will just cloud your mind and impair your judgment.  If you're still being given unmanageable things to do about a month after you start, then you are allowed to freak out.

Ask questions to the right people
Asking questions to clarify a task you've been given is never a bad thing.  It's better to be safe and ask rather than to be sorry if you mess something up.  At every internship I've had, I was able to find at least one person who ended up being my go-to person for questions.  This person was always glad to help and understood that it's tough being new to a company and expected to do a lot of different things right off the bat.  Granted, I always found this person through an interesting process of trial-and-error.  Try asking several questions to numerous people in the office, and it will become obvious who gets disgruntled or doesn't seem to want to be bothered.  Think through your questions before you ask them to make sure that you're not wasting someone else's time on something you could have figured out on your own.

Become friends with the old intern... STAT!

The person who will be able to give you the most invaluable advice in the whole company will be... you guessed it- the old intern/interns.  Not only do they know exactly what you will be dealing with, but they will most likely be happy to fill you in on the details.  If you aren't given the opportunity to transition with them, ask someone for their contact information and shoot them a quick call or email to introduce yourself.  Get their permission to contact them is something comes up you think they might be able to help with, and then utilize them.

Please share if you have had an internship where you had to figure things out for yourself.  How did you manage?  Did you still enjoy your internship?
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Read about LinkedIn's newest feature, Career Explorer, a program that lets you explore different career paths and find people that can help you get there. - LinkedIn

The Intern View emphasizes how important a positive attitude is while interning. - The Intern View

Find out 5 ways to recharge without taking a vacation. -

While mooching of your parents in college can be convenient, I guess learning how to be financially independent is a good idea too. - eHow

Here are 5 solid reasons why college students should hit the polls.  If you aren't familiar with the issues, College Candy spells it out for you with their handy Midterm Election Guide.  Go vote! - College Candy

Have a little hope.  Why you might still get hired, in spite of everything going horribly wrong. - The Intern View

Totally unrelated to internships, but a feel-good article nonetheless... 10 things you're never too old to do. - College Candy
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Check out my latest article for Her Campus below or at the Her Campus site to view the comments!

How to Write a Thank You Note For Every Situation

Thursday, October 7, 2010
After an interview for a potential job or internship, what is the first thing you should do?  If you answered go home and throw off your heels and pencil skirt, you are wrong.  But if you said go pick out your finest stationery and start working on a thank you note, you are absolutely correct!  While most college girls realize that sending a thank you note after an interview is obligatory, many girls don’t know what to write and do not think about all of the other situations that call for thank you notes as well.
A fabulous thank you note will help portray you as someone who is truly gracious and appreciative of a person’s time, which will speak volumes about your character.  This positive persona will help you stand out from the crowd, while not sending a thank you note will lump you in with all the other people who could not be bothered to write one.  A stellar thank you note could even end up being a deal breaker, opening doors for new opportunities if the timing is right.  Ashli, who was recently featured in a Her Campus article on college girls with the most awesome internships, wrote the VP of Merchandising for Oscar de la Renta a heartfelt thank you note after a meeting and got a shoutout on Twitter saying how much a good thank you note means.
With the help of Marci Raver, founder of the Contemporary Etiquette Institute, a social and business etiquette consulting firm, Her Campus will help take the guesswork out of figuring out what to write and explain how to compose a great thank you note worth remembering.
There are four basic parts to a thank you note:
  1. The greeting
  2. Say thank you (once) and mention what you are thanking them for
  3. Say something about the meaningfulness of the act
  4. Sign off (e.g., “Best,” “Sincerely”)
Writing quality thank you notes and getting them out quickly are both equally important parts of the process.  To be sure you are able to get the note out promptly, have quality note cards and stamps on hand, and remember to get the person’s business card so you know their title and where to send the note to.  Raver suggests that when searching for the perfect paper or note cards to use, look for blank cards that do not have “thank you” printed on them, and look for quality paper with beautiful lined envelopes.  Online companies such asPaper Source have great options as well as other retail stores like Papyrus.  Aim to get your thank you note in the mail the following day and definitely within the week.   Also, do not forget to include your contact information to make follow-up easy.
While sending a thank you note via e-mail sounds like a quicker and easier alternative to the traditional handwritten thank you note, think twice before sending one of these.  Although e-mails are faster, they lack the sincerity of a traditional handwritten thank you, which is more memorable and will help you stand out in today’s competitive work environment by leaving a lasting impression.  One additional option is to send both an e-mail and handwritten thank you note, especially if you believe time is sensitive.
When deciding on how long to make your thank you note, shoot for at least one solid paragraph.  You do not want the note to be so short that it seems insincere, but you do not want to write a novel and bore the reader to death either.  If you feel you have something important to say, by all means write it in the note, but be mindful of how long the reader will have to spend reading your note before moving on to another.
Here are some examples of thank you notes for every situation the typical college girl may encounter that all call for a thank you note.  Use them as guides when you need to write one, but be sure to put your own personal twist on them to make it genuine and unique.
Sample Thank You Notes
Thank you for an internship interview
Dear John Doe,
Thank you for taking the time to interview me for the position of Marketing Intern at XYZ Company.  The internship, as you described, seems to be a great fit for my skills and interests.  I am especially interested in the opportunity you mentioned to help develop social media campaigns, as I have had success with this at several of my past internships.  I should add that I have experience in public relations and marketing from several student organizations I have been a part of on campus, reaching out to over 20,000 students.  I appreciate the opportunity to interview for the position and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Your Name
Why this works
  • Be specific about why you want the internship and why you would be a great fit
  • Provide a brief recap of your strengths that are relevant to the position
  • If you forgot to mention anything during the interview, mention it in the thank you note, but do not explicitly say you forgot
Thank you for lunch (to a superior who gave great career advice)
Dear John Doe,
Thank you for taking the time to join me for lunch the other day and giving me such great career advice.  It means a lot to have someone in your position provide me with guidance as I prepare to start my own career.  I plan to seriously consider your advice about how to handle my first year of law school and will also keep in mind your encouragement to study abroad at some point.  I will be sure to keep you updated on the developments in my life after graduation.
Your Name
Why this works
  • Make sure you thank them for their time, especially if they went out of their way to meet with you
  • Touch on some key points they mentioned to show you were listening
  • Offer to stay in touch and follow through to maintain a positive relationship
Thank you to intern supervisor at end of internship
Dear John Doe,
Thank you for the incredible opportunity to intern at XYZ Company for the fall semester.  I could not have asked for a better internship experience and it was made possible by your help and guidance.  From the experience, I am walking away with many new skills and experiences that will be invaluable as I prepare to start my own career.  I am especially grateful for having had the opportunity to sharpen my communication skills by working with customers firsthand and working in such a positive team environment.  If I can ever be of further assistance to the company, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Your Name
Why this works
  • Let them know how you benefited from the experience and how it will help you in the future
  • Mention specifically what you loved about the internship to make them feel productive
  • Offer to help out since this shows your commitment to the company and may initiate future opportunities
Thank you for a letter of recommendation
Dear John Doe,
Thank you for taking the time to write me such a glowing letter of recommendation.  I realize that composing a good letter of recommendation is time consuming, so I appreciate the effort you took to craft a letter that was meaningful.  I hope that your knowledge of my academic performance from taking several of your classes was helpful, and I will be sure to keep you updated on whether or not I receive the opportunity.
Your Name
Why this works
  • If you were able to see the actual letter of recommendation let them know how great it was
  • Acknowledge how much time can go into writing a good letter of recommendation and how you are thankful
  • Promise to follow up on the opportunity since the letter of recommendation was an important part of the process
Marci Raver, founder of the Contemporary Etiquette Institute
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Photo Credit
Being stressed to the max can be one of the unfortunate side effects of balancing an internship with school and all of the other responsibilities college kids tend to rack up.  With a full plate, sometimes the stress can feel unbearable.  Believe me, I've been there!  Feeling anxious all of the time, getting sick often, suffering from constant headaches, and unusual weight loss can all be signs that you are experiencing too much stress.  If you experience any of those symptoms your body is trying to tell you that you're taking on too much!

Believe it or not, there are some more effective ways for managing your stress than pulling out your hair or banging your head on the wall.  The main idea is to stay calm and not let your responsibilities consume you.  YOU control your life and have the ability to enjoy it as long as you manage the stress effectively.

Here are some tips for handling stress in college:

Learn to say "no"

Although it pains me to admit it, one person is not capable of doing it all.  As much as we sometimes like to try, there are things you simply  have to say no to for the sake of your own sanity.  Whether it's an unachievable deadline or a favor for one of your student organizations, add the word "NO" to your vocabulary and stat.  As long as you are polite about turning something down, you shouldn't add to your stress by worrying about hurting people's feelings.  Hopefully, the people you are dealing with are mature adults and will understand your time constraints.  If they don't, reconsider your commitment to them in the first place.

Make your to-do list your best friend

Not only should you keep an ongoing list of everything that you need to accomplish, but you should prioritize that list.  Put important tasks that need to be done sooner at the top and tasks that aren't quite as pressing towards the bottom.  This should prevent that overwhelming feeling of looking at your to-do list and not quite knowing where to start because there is so much.  It will also keep you from jumping up in the middle of the night because you remembered one more thing that you have to get done.  I manage my to-do list on a free program called Evernote, which hosts all of my lists online and lets me access and edit them from my phone, computer, or anywhere that has Internet. A service like this is great because it prevents any confusion that could come from not having your list on hand.

Eat and sleep (seriously)

If you need a reminder to eat and sleep you have more serious problems than I can help you with; yet so many busy college kids don't get the amount of sleep they need each night or the right nutrition from their meals.  Although I am a Ramen connoisseur and have a penchant for certain junk foods, I always make sure I'm getting some protein and greens each day as well.  You don't have to be a health nut, but realize that what you eat is what fuels you for the day and all of your activities.   Always eat a good breakfast, whether you have time for a bowl of Cap'n Crunch or eggs and toast, you have to eat something.  Also, go to bed!  You are going to be exhausted and even more stressed if you aren't getting close to 8 hours of sleep each night.  If you're a night owl do your best to avoid early morning classes and vice versa.  Sleeping is not optional although sometimes it can feel like it.  Whether you need to find time for a power nap during the day or set yourself a bedtime, do what it takes to find time for this necessity.

Go outside

It sounds trivial, but getting some quality time in the sun can really help reduce stress levels.  Being outside boosts Vitamin D levels which is vital to good health and causes the release of endorphins, which are the body's natural anti-depressants; just make sure you wear sunscreen (Associated Content).  All throughout college I have opted to walk to class instead of drive, at least part of the way.  If you are a commuter don't waste your time fighting for the closest parking spot on campus in the morning.  Instead, opt for the spot that is a bit farther and walk the rest of the way to class.  Not only will you get some extra rays and a little exercise that will help wake you up and prepare you for the day, but walking can help clear your mind and give you a chance to plug into your iPod if that's what helps you relax.

Schedule some "me" time

No matter how much you have going on you absolutely must schedule time for yourself, even if this means actually blocking out a period of time in your planner (I literally have Glee and Law and Order: SVU marked on my calendar every week).  For some people, closing the door and watching a movie or an hour of TV in peace and quiet is what helps recharge their batteries, while for others going out and socializing or playing sports is what keeps them refreshed.  A brain that is always working is eventually going to get exhausted and will start being unproductive, so give it a rest every once in a while.

If all else fails make some cuts

If you get to the point where there is nothing else you can do to alleviate some of the stress, it's time to reevaluate your commitments.  Are there student organizations that you aren't really dedicated to?  Do you have to be on three different intramural sports teams?  Make a list of everything that takes up your time and take a good hard look at it to separate the important things from the other stuff that might be draining your time and energy.

Here are some helpful quizzes from that can help you determine how stressed you are.

The Stress Reliever Personality Test

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The Do's and Don'ts of LinkedIn Etiquette

Friday, September 24, 2010
For any career-minded college student or recent grad, having a profile on LinkedIn is basically expected in order to stay ahead of the game and network with peers, companies, and other professionals. As a member of this 65 million person network, not only do you get to shamelessly market yourself for the entire world to see, but you are able to stay on the radar of recruiters for potential job opportunities, something no unemployed recent grad can afford to pass up.
There is no question that LinkedIn is a great tool for promoting yourself and garnering invaluable professional contacts, but the same reason LinkedIn is so great is what makes it so scary to use. Unlike Facebook, with its more carefree and social atmosphere, on LinkedIn you are potentially connecting with your employer, your professors, and other contacts you typically would not want perusing your Facebook profile and having access to your personal information.
While it is pretty easy to figure out the basics of LinkedIn, the specifics of how exactly you should utilize LinkedIn’s functions and figuring out what is appropriate and what is not can be tricky.
Neal Schaffer, author of Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedInis pretty much Her Campus’s go-to guy when it comes to learning about LinkedIn, having sat down with Her Campus contributing writer Betty Jin earlier this year to discuss almost everything there is to know about the site. In this article, Neal shares what exactly is acceptable on LinkedIn when inviting people to connect, asking for recommendations, and posting status updates. With his advice, next time you get that queasy feeling in your stomach when you go to connect with your boss on LinkedIn, you can breathe a little easier knowing that you are acting just as any professional should.
Inviting people to connect
Inviting people to join your network is one of the most basic functions of LinkedIn and embodies the whole purpose of the site. This simple task of reaching out to people may seem harmless enough, but becomes complicated when you come across someone such as one of your professors or the editor-in-chief of the magazine you interned for, and you are not quite sure whether or not to take the plunge and actually hit “connect”.
LinkedIn was designed to encourage people to connect with others they have actually met and know somewhat well. Friends, classmates, professors, and contacts from jobs and internships are all great people to use to expand your network. It becomes tricky when you want to connect with someone you may have met a job fair who told you to keep in touch or the head honcho of the company you interned for who you only met a couple times and doubt remembers you. Luckily, LinkedIn is evolving and it has become acceptable to connect with these types of people as well as people you might not know at all under some conditions; it just takes a little more work on your part.
Deciding how to go about connecting with a person on LinkedIn can be one of the most challenging parts of using the site. If you know the person well, the options that LinkedIn gives you when you go to add them to your network such as “Friend”, “Colleague”, “Classmate”, etc. should be easy enough to figure out. On the other hand, if you are trying to reach out to someone you do not know quite as well and who does not necessarily fit into those categories, you need to go the extra mile and pull a few tricks.
  • Look at the person’s profile and see what groups they are members of on LinkedIn
  • Become a member of one of their groups ONLY if it is relevant to you
  • When you go to connect with the person again, an option will come up that you can select to explain that you are members of the same group
  • OR you can use the group to send a message to the person explaining why you would like to connect
When inviting a person to join your network, you are always given the option to add a personal note to the request. Not including a personal message is a pet peeve of many LinkedIn users and could hurt your chance of gaining the connection; it also helps the person to remember you and gives you a chance to explain why you want to connect with them.
“Regardless as to how well you know the person that you invite, they may not remember you as well,” advises Neal. “Therefore, as a rule of thumb, you should always customize your invitations so that you indicate how you know the person and why you want to connect with them.”
Your note can be something short such as, “My name is Michelle and I interned for your company last summer. I really enjoyed working for the marketing department and would love to use LinkedIn to stay in touch with some of the people I met while interning there and build up my network on LinkedIn.” The most important thing to remember is to use common sense when reaching out to different people on LinkedIn, and to plan out your actions before you have the chance to make any mistakes.
Asking for recommendations

Recommendations on LinkedIn are virtual versions of letters of recommendation you would normally ask for from someone on paper, although these types are much shorter. If you are a serious user of LinkedIn, meaning you do not just have a profile because everyone else does, but because you honestly want to network and create a professional image for yourself, then recommendations are a necessary part of being a member of LinkedIn. Recommendations are also a must if you want to use LinkedIn to find future jobs and internships. They give you more credibility and add a sense of completeness to your profile which is appealing to those looking at your profile.
You only want to ask for recommendations from people who know you well and can vouch for your skills and abilities, not someone you hardly know. Internship or work supervisors are great people to ask for recommendations, as well as professors whose classes you did exceedingly well in. The best time to ask for a recommendation is shortly after you worked with the person or took their class, although asking for recommendations later is also fine as long as you provide a refresher on who you are and why they would want to recommend you.
Be sure to provide a thorough explanation for why you are seeking a recommendation, whether you are looking for a job or internship, trying to improve your profile, or whatever your reasons may be. Just as you would do when asking for a typical letter of recommendation, you should remind the person what you accomplished while working for them or what skills you displayed that were noteworthy.
“You're not writing your recommendation for them, but merely serving to remind them about what you did for them so that they can paint a complete picture of you from memory,” said Neal.
If you ask someone for an actual letter of recommendation, discreetly ask if they might be willing to use an excerpt of it to recommend you on LinkedIn as well. The worst they can do is say no. Since we are talking about etiquette, one of the most important parts of asking for a recommendation on LinkedIn is to thank the person for taking the time to write one for you. Taking the time to do so will leave the door open for future opportunities, which can never hurt.
Posting updates
While tweeting what you are doing every five minutes is the new trend, I hate to break it to you, but your professional contacts probably do not care. Just like Facebook and Twitter, on LinkedIn you have the opportunity to post updates through the “Status Update” box on your profile, but beware, updates on LinkedIn should be treated significantly different than posting on other networking sites.
“The LinkedIn Status Update, while seemingly innocent, will post your update to your network in the News Feed on their Home Page,” warned Neal. “Since the majority of LinkedIn users used it before Facebook or Twitter, the current environment is one in which status updates no more than once a day are tolerated.”
Whatever you do, DO NOT link your Twitter account with your LinkedIn profile in a way that automatically posts every tweet to LinkedIn, especially if you tweet often. Status updates on LinkedIn should consist of positive information about your life that helps promote you professionally, such as updates about professional events you attended or projects you are working on for school, while blurbs about your tailgating plans for the weekend and how you loved the new episode of “ The Jersey Shore” are not.
With these clarifications, you are now ready to fearlessly brave the seas of LinkedIn and use it to your utmost benefit!
Neal Schaffer, author of Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn

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