One very important thing to remember as you begin your next internship is that your internship is what you make of it. As we’ve said before, your internship is not all about you, so sometimes you’re going to have to go out of your way to find the value in your role. Here are three tips that will help maximize the impact of your internship and set you up for future success:
1. Set up informational interviews. The most valuable part of an internship is the network it creates for you. If you want to get a job in Hollywood after graduation, you’re going to need connections that can help you get there. Set up meetings with executives and assistants across the company, and learn as much as you can from them. Then, be sure to stay in touch after the internship has ended.
2. Stay busy. It’s true, many internships are boring, either because your supervisor is too busy to give you assignments or because there’s simply not much work that the team needs your help with. But spending the entire day on Facebook isn’t an option – if other employees see your computer screen, they’ll assume you aren’t a very reliable intern. So, if you run out of tasks, ask your supervisor if there’s anything you can help with. It will serve as a reminder that you need things to do, and she’ll be glad you took the initiative to ask. If your supervisor doesn’t need anything, see if there’s a way you can create some work for yourself. Think of assignments that might help the team in some way – compiling competitive reports, talent lists, newsletters, etc. – and see if there are any processes you can implement or research you can do that will make the department better. Aside from avoiding boredom, you’ll score major bonus points for making everyone’s lives easier!
3. Read everything. One benefit of internships is that you have access to lots of proprietary information that you wouldn’t be able to learn otherwise. So, when you’re given scripts or documents to organize (or shred!), try to read them all to learn more about the business and stay up to date with what your team is working on. Obviously, don’t go digging around in filing cabinets without permission, but if you take the time to read everything you’re given, you’ll come out of your internship a lot more informed. Plus, reading takes up a lot of time and can help mitigate boredom!
It’s a bummer that many internships don’t turn out to be as great as they sounded in the interview. Sometimes supervisors won’t be able to give you their full attention. Sometimes the work will be too easy. But it’s crucial that you’re always learning during your internship, so if you find yourself getting bored, figure out something you want to know more about and try out these tips!
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
You get an interview at your dream company. You want to approach the situation confidently, but in the back of your mind, you have a nagging feeling…”Will they hire me if they knew about my extenuating circumstances? What if I accept the job, and then when I tell my boss about them, he fires me on the spot?”
Extenuating circumstances are different for each person. They can be a one time thing, like the two-week long family vacation your mom planned months ago, or something with a long-term impact, like the fact that you observe the Sabbath, are at the beginning of a pregnancy, or have a medical condition that requires you to take more time off than the average employee. What these issues always have in common is that they can cause a great level of stress -- you want the job, but you have this other major life thing that you can’t sacrifice either, and it’s easy to worry yourself into a tizzy trying to figure out when to be forthcoming.
We recommend waiting to share extenuating circumstances until you have an offer on the table, unless the topic comes up naturally. Sure, the potential employer might be blindsided for a second, but they legally can’t rescind an offer for things like religious practices or disabilities if there are reasonable accommodations that can be made that allow you to do the job. But if you mention your needs in an interview, you run the risk of losing the offer, and it's nearly impossible to prove discrimination occurred. So withhold this information until you are offered the position, but carefully prepare the statement you make to your future boss to start things off on the right foot.
For something like a vacation, it’s as simple as saying, “Thanks for the offer! I’m curious about the company’s vacation policy -- my family is going to Europe for two weeks next month to celebrate my mom’s birthday, and it’s been planned forever. Would it be possible to take that time off?” Sometimes, the answer will be “Sure thing!” In other instances, you might have to cancel or take the time off unpaid. In that case, it’s your call if the trip or the money is more important.
For something recurring, it’s a little tougher. You want to make sure you have proof you can do the job with reasonable accommodations. Try something like, “Thanks for the offer. I want to let you know that I observe many religious holidays that require me to be out of the office for several extra days of the year. I can send you a schedule of the exact dates, and I’m prepared to make up the hours by staying later during the other days of those weeks. If you’d like to talk to some past employers about how this has worked, I’m happy to provide references.” For a medical condition, it may be more sensitive to discuss, but do your best to explain your medical needs without oversharing. For instance, “Thanks for the offer. This is a little awkward, but I think I should let you know that I have a medical condition that requires frequent visits to the doctor's office and sometimes interferes with my ability to come into the office. I may need to take extra time off for doctor’s appointments and work from home on certain days. Is that something you can accommodate? I can assure you this won't impact the quality of my work, and I’m happy to provide references from previous employers who can attest to my work ethic.”
It’s possible, if you got the job through a referral, that your potential employer already knows this information and is comfortable with it. Sometimes they’ll even bring it up in the interview. But more often, it’s brand new information and may throw them for a loop. Monitor their reactions -- if they express understanding with their surprise, great! Remember to be ten times better at your job than the other employees, and you’ll succeed in the role. But if they start howling through the phone about how you’re incredibly shady and can’t believe you trapped them like this, decline the offer. At that point, you’re signing yourself up for constant abuse, and that’s never worth it. Aren’t you glad you know? Your sucky medical condition may have saved you from working for an insufferable maniac!
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
For the average person, a typical Friday can go in one of two ways:
1) a busy Friday, where you’re rushing to get everything done before the end of the day so you don’t have to work over the weekend, or 2) a relaxed Friday, where you’re able to get your work done quickly, skip out of the office on the early side, and start your weekend. Friday is also the day most people choose for vacation days, and some lucky people have half-days during the summer, or even year-round. Considering these facts, let’s talk about what types of emails are appropriate to send on a Friday and what types are downright annoying.
If someone is in the office on a Friday, assume they are going to spend a chunk of it wrapping up their work for the week and focusing on meeting end-of-week deadlines. When it comes to email, internal communications and memos about specific projects or Monday meetings are fair game at this time. But when unanticipated requests come in on a Friday afternoon, interfering with plans to get through the final items on the to-do list that week, the recipient is, understandably, going to be irritated.
Friday is not a good day to start new business. You should never send requests for informational interviews or email introductions, pitch new projects, or ask for any type of favor so late in the week. Often, you might feel tempted to send these types of emails at the end of the week, since you’ve spent four days working on more time-sensitive projects, and Friday is the only day you’ve had time to come up for air. But think about the person on the other end of the line -- they might be feeling the same way.
No, someone isn’t going to completely write you off for sending an email on a Friday, but they might subconsciously lower their opinion of you -- or mark your email to be read later, only for it to get buried in the stream of Deadline alerts that pile up over the weekend. If the only day you have time for outreach is a Friday, simply type up your email, save it in the drafts folder, and send it out on Monday or Tuesday, when it will actually be read with sympathetic eyes. You’ll still feel like you’ve accomplished something, and, even though they may not realize it, you’ll have done the other person a favor.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
You’ve never met before, but you’ve talked briefly via email or phone. You know a little bit about each other because you’ve googled him, and he's seen your profile. Now you have to make a good impression in person, and if you do, you can live happily ever after...in your dream job.
Dating and interviewing require a lot of the same skills, so if you’ve ever swiped right and grabbed a drink with a potential mate, you have some interview experience to rely on. If you follow some of the same key rules of dating when you meet a prospective employer, you’ll be well on your way to nabbing the job.
Be enthusiastic, not creepy. Much like a potential mate who wants to find someone that shares his or her passions, employers want to hire someone who’s passionate about the company. Make sure you highlight the aspects of your experience that showcase your interest in and ability to do the job. Touch on some of the main points you learned in your pre-interview research. But don’t be creepy by getting too personal. If you googled your interviewer and found out she just vacationed in Thailand, don’t ask her about her trip if she doesn’t bring it up. Would you ever let a Tinder match know you’d stalked him/her? Probably not.
Get the interviewer talking. Great dates are centered on great conversations. And a great conversationalist knows that listening, rather than talking, endears you to a potential love interest. People love talking about themselves. But how do you make that happen in an interview without putting your interviewer on the spot? The trick is to pivot away from a call and response style of questioning and settle into a conversation. If you learn the obvious interview questions and craft answers that cover all your bases with an early question -- for example, your response to “Tell me about yourself” includes why you’re interested in the company, your long term goals, and your biggest strengths -- you’ll force your interviewer to think on her feet and develop a more conversational tone. As a result, the interviewer will find herself more relaxed and able to talk to you -- which bodes well for getting called back in.
Know what you’re looking for. Have you ever met someone for a drink, and five minutes in, realized you have no interest in spending the rest of the night -- much less the rest of your life -- with that person? That can happen at a job interview too. Sometimes the company or position isn't what you’d hoped it would be. That’s okay. There’s no rule that says you have to be gung-ho about every position you apply for -- and it’s certainly better to figure out that it's not the right fit during the interview than to get the job and hate it. If this happens, finish out the interview politely, and don’t fake excitement. If you answer the interviewer’s questions professionally and honestly, but without any of that spark referred to in tip #1, they should get the picture, and you can move on without damaging a professional relationship. Think of it as mutual ghosting. But if you do get a call back for a follow up interview, thank the hiring manager for her time, and let her know you don’t think the company or the position is the right fit -- don't just vanish into thin air.
Maintain faith in the process. It’s hard to find that person who’s perfect for you, and it's also hard to find the right job. You may have excellent interview skills but have never been able make it past 2nd place. There are many reasons this can happen, so don't let it get you down. As long as you’ve worked on the things you can control -- having a great resume and cover letter, building your network, and interviewing and following up masterfully -- the right job will come along when it’s time. You just have to keep at it until you find a position that fits, and when you do, it’ll have been worth it.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan