Monthly Archives: June 2010

Not your typical intern advice

Okay, time be straight up. I’ve been pretty fortunate to have experienced a variety of internships doing a number of different things. Every experience is different, from the amount and quality of work that comes out of you to the pay and the people you work with. It’s not uncommon to get lucky and fall into an internship that expects a lot less out of you than you could offer, and it’s easy to get into a comfortable groove where you do the minimum necessary and just coast.

Many of us have also made it in life by achieving clearly defined goals set by our teachers or other superiors. We feel good about getting good grades, and about the fact that we are above the “status quo” and met or surpassed expectations. Life is not really like this if you really want to make it.

When people say that they enjoy their work because its challenging, that’s not because they work along predefined guidelines to produce a product that measures up to a predetermined standard. Once you are really working, the sky is the limit with the quality of your work and the effort you put into it. To really succeed, you have to pour yourself into a project and really THINK about what is going on. It’s not just about meeting a set of criteria that determine a pass/fail. You have to push your project or assignment ot the point where you are really delivering something of value to your company. And there are tons of people pursuing the same or similar goals as you are. Imagine the hardest you ever schemed while trying to win a game or navigate a social challenge and stretch it out for days at end, then you have the experience of working a “challenging job”

I don’t mean to be discouraging in this post, actually just the opposite. I want to encourage everyone to push themselves to do their best now, so that it’s not such a shock once you hit the real world. There are hundreds of millions of people who are not as well off as you who would happily take your position in society and continue to fight their way up. Get on top of your game now so that you can hit the ground running when you git the job market and really make something out of yourself.

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Filed under Dishing Basics

Impress your employer- With Posterous

With the huge quantity of online content available to enrich and educate employees in every imaginable field, it can be hard to keep track of the gems that make their way around an office email list. Digging through an overstuffed deleted mail folder is not only tedious, but the content is stuck there and will likely never reach successive generations of employees. A quick way to easily solve a problem nagging managers at nearly every company, namely knowledge archiving, comes from a simple online blogging tool.

Enter Posterous to save the day. This nifty blogging service allows members to email blog posts instead of having to log on to a publishing dashboard or UI. Archiving a useful link, article, or information tidbit is as easy as a quick email to Posterous. Entries can be tagged according to content and can then be searched for at a later date. New interns or employees can quickly browse through and read the blogs content to get up to speed on the latest office discussion topics and see how it has evolved. This system is a quick, modern solution to an ages old problem thats absolutely free! Time to try it for yourself, let me know in the comments how it works out for you

Thanks to @mikeschwede at @orange8 for the idea behind this clever use of Posterous.

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Taking full advantage of your internship

Interning is an important step toward securing a solid position after college. Not only are you gathering valuable work skills, you’re also getting accustomed to the typical mechanics of work life and laying a mental foundation for the rest of your life. I know you’ve been preached this same spiel 20 million times, so I’m going to launch straight into the meat of my advice.

It’s all about Documentation– Being able to display examples of work is a surefire way to set yourself apart from other job applicants when it really matters. Don’t be lazy now and force yourself to scramble and dig for documents when you really need them. Start a portfolio folder and start putting away work you’re proud of. Anything that stands out to you should be automatically dropped in the folder for later reference. Trust me, it’ll be a lot easier to pick out the best stuff than to have to dig around when the time comes. If you’re feeling like a total overachiver, upload the files to the cloud with a service like Box.net or Google Docs.

Reference Letters– Sure, you’re trying your best at your internship because that’s what you’re supposed to do. The true reward, however, comes when you can ask for a reference letter, or even better, a letter of recommendation from your employer. This is a personal guarantee that you have performed your responsibilities to your fullest and that you are a quality employee. Neighbor references are for highschoolers, the shit you get from an internship lands you jobs with Fortune 500 companies.

Employee Education– There are many names for this one, but it’s absolutely one you should take advantage of. If you see offerings for any kinds of educational courses at your place of employment, make sure you work your ass off so your employer gives you time to take these. Any type of certification or advanced training will work wonders for your resume and carry you through an interview.

Internships can be miserable, they can be tedious, but ultimately they are incredibly valuable to your pursuit of a fruitful career. Don’t be lazy and take a few simple measures to carry the fruit of your labor to your next interview.
Leave a comment about your own internship experience, and if you’re feeling a little overachieveresque maybe even a link to a piece of your work!

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Filed under Dishing Basics, Grab Bag

Smartphone Apps for Interns- Food

A few must have’s for all you savvy grocery shoppers and foodies, this stuff will help you find the best eats and deals while making your life that much easier.

Foursquare is quickly gaining users and more and more businesses are beginning to offer “Mayors” rewards for their loyalty. If a store doesn’t already have a program in place, consider explaining the service to them andconvincing them to start something up. Typical offers include percent discounts and free items now and again.

Yelp is great for finding out the specialties and prices of local grocers. Especially useful for big metropolitan cities, but also good for average sized cities, it’s the quickest way to inform yourself about the best food at your local grocery stores.

Card Bank is a cool utility for smart phone users that lets you put all your shopping rewards cards on your phone by entering your account number. Instead of carrying around a fat bundle of cards, the cashier can simply scan the barcode displayed on your phone.

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Filed under The Outside World

Eating on an Intern’s Pay (Or Lack Thereof)

Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that intern pay is not nearly stellar, if you’re lucky enough to be getting any at all. Trying to squeeze the most out of your limited budget takes a little creativity, but with a few simple adjustments you can step away from that ramen diet and enjoy yourself every now and again.

Shopping- Grocery shopping can quickly add up if you’re not savvy and careful about what you buy and when. Shop sales, and keep an eye on circulars to stock up on essentials when they come on sale. Non-perishables are perfect for hoarding, and if there happens to be a good deal on meat or vegetables, considering cooking up a big batch of soup or sauce and freezing it in portions for later. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as thawing out some home made soup for a hearty meal without all the work required for cooking.

Cooking Can be a royal pain in the ass, and will quickly frustrate you if you don’t make things easy for yourself. Set aside a day on the weekend or an afternoon after work to cook up a big batch for portioning and freezing. Soups, stews, and sauces make great portionable meals that just require pasta or rice for a complete meal. Salads of all sorts, smoothies, and wraps are also great. You can toss items in an oven and go about your business while they cook, an invaluable kitchen tool. Also, items like couscous, grits, and oatmeal just require hot water and make a good side dish or breakfast.

Eating Out- Eating out for evey meal can quickly eat through your weekly budget, and make you fat. Take a step back and add up how much you”re spending on eating out, and you’ll be shocked at how much you’re blowing on subs a week. Try to make eating out a reward or something special. For the rest of the days, make yourself a big salad or sandwich at home to bring in. If you hit a sale at a grocery store, you can stock up on frozen dinners super cheap, which make a good alternative to eating out. When you do go out, make it worth it and find a good eat through one of many review sites like YelpUrbanspoon, or your local newspaper.

If you avoid eating out and familiarize yourself with your kitchen, you can save a ton of money. Not only are you lining your pockets, but your gut will thank you as well.

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Filed under Dishing Basics, Grab Bag

Handling Conflict as an Intern

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable and an especially difficult subject for interns. There will always be certain individuals who are out to get you, and those who are extremely intolerant of your position. Although it’s not necessary that you eat every bit of garbage flung at you, it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind.

  • As an intern, you are far more expendable than a full time employee. Full-timers have invested significantly more in the company and rooted themselves in the organization to a degree you will never be able to during your short stint. If a project comes to a standstill or is underperforming because you can’t get along with a full-time member of your team, you’re more than likely to get the boot.
  • You are young and relatively inexperienced. While many of us have a pretty good handle of what’s what in the real world, there are situations at a new internship that you might not fully understand because you’ve never run across anything like it before. Don’t get hot headed, relax and try to figure out what the root of the problem is and do your best to right it. Being proactive will get you much farther than being argumentative and asserting a faulty position.
  • Keep and eye out for trouble. Pay attention to your coworkers’ mood and behavior to avoid putting yourself in a tough situation. If it looks like your coworker is stressed and having a bad day, do your best to avoid exacerbating it. Put yourself in their shoes and don’t do anything that could push their buttons and make them blow up on you.

Although conflict is inevitable in any work environment, a little effort can keep you out of a lot of trouble. If someone is being absolutely and consistently unfair to you and everyone around them, it may be time to take it up with the superiors. Otherwise, complaining about problems with your team mates will single you out in a a negative and non-constructive manner.

Some useful further reading:

Disclaimer: The conflict described in this post does not apply to any unlawful behavior. If you think your coworkers are treating you in a way that violates laws governing work and work environments, consult a professional.

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