Category Archives: Dishing Basics

Just getting or haven’t yet gotten a handle of things in the office? This is for you.

Spicing up a presentation with Flickr

Flickr is not only a great resource for photographers publishing their work, but also for the people on the other end- me and you.  The media hub is a great source for quality photography on a huge variety of subjects, useful for anything from presentations and blog posts to finding stock photography for a graphics project.

This is especially relevant for us college-going interns, who have to complete a seemingly neverending stream of presentations for work and school. Separate yourself from your coworkers and other students by finding quality photography that is not just from Google Images Search. Trust me, your audience will thank you. Check out my Flickr Photostream here.

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Home Officing- First experiences

I was recently assigned several projects that involve a good deal of online research and presentation building. I think I’m not alone having considered what an experience working from home would be like, and I decided to try it. With freelance/consulting work potentially being in my future, this has been a great preview of what the next 30 years of my life could look like.

The Pros are plentiful. I really enjoyed working from home and got a surprisingly large amount of work done. I was able to listen to the music I wanted, as loud as I wanted. I was able to eat when I wanted, where I wanted, what I wanted, and with whom I wanted. I took relaxing breaks doing whatever, whenever I wanted. I was able to focus in on my work without constant interruptions from coworkers. I was able to enjoy the beautiful weather. I was productive on the job as well as with my personal affairs. I was happy.

The Cons are few, but they are there. I think I might have overeaten from my fridge full of food. I spent too much time on my break activities. I worked late into the evening due to my extended break periods. My posture suffered from lounging around on the couch all day.

Overall, I definitely reccomend giving the homeoffice style a shot. It’s been really great for me, and the more I work at home, the better I will become at controlling the distractions it offers. You feel much more motivated and comfortable in your own home, and you can get work done at your own pace.

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Staying Focused as an Intern

One of the most difficult aspects of working at an internship, especially if it’s your first, is the fact that you have to filter out a myriad of distractions that incessantly threaten your focus. Luckily for many of us, 80% to 90% of these distractions stem from the mother of all Catch-22s, our computers. Social networking sites, video portals, and bookmarking services are the bane of any curious intern’s concentration. It’s important to come to terms with and get a grip on our weakness and take some preparatory measures.

Keep track of your daily activities– Whenever you hop off the task you’re currently working on to check out a status update, drill down a tweet, or follow a link in an email, take a note of how long you spend doing so. There are time management applications such as RescueTime or TimeSnapper that keep a record of your computer activity and allow you to track just how much time you are wasting.

When knowing isn’t enough- If knowing that you’re wasting 1.5 to 2 hours on Facebook on a daily basis isn’t enough to motivate a change, consider a url blocker that keeps you from visiting those sites during certain hours. CNet offers a wide variety of blockers meant for protecting kids from exposed genitalia which can handily be applied to blocking the sites that suck up most of your productive day.

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize- Last but quite the opposite of least, make sure you prioritize any task that is assigned to you and make sure that you move through your prioritized list in an organized, logical way. It can be a real pain for those of us used to doing things on the fly, but will utimately help you avoid embarassing incidents of forgotting an important task or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Getting used to a working routine can take a lot of time, and sometimes takes several internships to fully grasp. Don’t beat yourself and focus on what’s important: you’re there to learn. The rest will come on its own, or I will stumble across the same situation and blog about it. Good day.

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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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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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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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