The Good Intern
New Year, New Goals
The First Day
Posted by Michelle Pence - - 1 comments
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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