The End of the Internship is Just the Beginning

One of the key differences between an internship and regular employment is the mutual understanding that the position is meant to be a temporary experience.  In that light, employers and students alike should embrace the end of the internship with a much different approach.

First, don’t view internship end as termination.  Many interns often feel a negative atmosphere around the end of the session.  However, this is not a failure but a graduation of the student intern, not only from their employment, but likely from their degree program.  The internship experience is typically the final course taken.

Next, be thankful for the intern’s contributions and show your appreciation.  The employer should create a celebration for the intern and acknowledge the help they provided during the quarter or semester.  It can be as simple as a meeting and handshake or more elaborate involving cake and a certificate of achievement.  Regardless, make sure your intern knows that their work did not go unnoticed.

Finally, remember that the student provides a unique perspective to the organization.  You should not let their viewpoint go to waste.  Remember to solicit their feedback on the organization. An exit interview can often be a valuable tool in gathering this information.

Of course, the best conclusion of any internship is extended employment.  The ultimate measure of success includes an offer for permanent employment, which we always encourage companies to do.  However, we realize that is not always an option for a multitude of reasons. Remember, the student is an ambassador for your company, don’t waste the success of an internship by not appropriately off boarding them from your organization.

By Shane S. Kirby, MBA
Internship Program Coordinator
Business Programs, Integrated Media & Technology
Columbus State Community College

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Three Things to Know About Working with Colleges

Once you have discovered that you have a need and desire to work with a college to find an intern, consider the school requirements for the position.  If the student is earning credit for the position, there are often specific procedures that the internship must follow.  In this article, we look at three things that you should know about working with college internship programs.

Align with the Academic Calendar
If the position is earning credit, the internship often includes standard courses that the student will enroll in while they embark in their experiential learning.  In order to do this, the internship experience must align with the academic calendar for the term in which the student is enrolled. Please consider this when designing your start and end date for the position you wish to post.

Typically, the student will register for two courses, a practicum course, which is graded on the work experience itself, and a seminar course that includes the academic components of related assignments and projects.  Each discipline has its own curriculum and some majors refer to these courses and internships, apprenticeships, clinicals, or work experiences.

Know the Hour Requirement
Once you have determined the term in which you would like to host the student, you should inquire as to the time requirement the school may have.  For practicum courses, the requirement standard is seven (7) hours working for every one (1) credit hour.  Most of the practicum courses at Columbus State are three credit hours which translates to 21 hours per week (7 hours x 3 credits = 21 hrs/week).  Over a 10 week quarter, this would equal a 210 hour requirement.  For semesters, the requirement increases to 315 hours (15 weeks x 21 hrs = 315 total hrs).  The student may work more than this requirement, but should meet this goal by the end of the term.

We do recognize that this requirement can often be cumbersome to some students that are working around their school or work schedule. Schools offer flexibility by allowing the student to begin the internship early to “bank” hours or by allowing the student to perform part of the work from home in hybrid experiences.  The key to these hybrid experiences is insuring that there is a constant feedback and guidance system where the intern maintains contact with the mentor.

Correspond to Specific Majors
Now that the logistics of the internship are detailed, the position should consider the specific discipline that corresponds to the duties and skills set required for the position. Many positions that are posted can accomodate students from multiple majors, but the hosting company will likely need to customize the final description to the selected candidates abilities and major requirements. For a list of majors that Columbus State offers internships for, please see the website at http://www.cscc.edu/imt/intern.

For instance, many event marketing internships may post the position to both Business Management (BMGT) and Marketing (MKTG) majors.  If the BMGT student is selected, the position description submitted for approval should focus on the organization, supervision, and management responsibilities that will be performed.  If the MKTG student is the preferred candidate, the duties submitted should reflect on the marketing, advertising, and promotion aspects.

Consider these three factors before you finalize your position and it will lead to a faster processing time in getting the experience posted and finding intern candidates.

By Shane S. Kirby, MBA
Internship Program Coordinator
Business Programs, Integrated Media & Technology
Columbus State Community College

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The Benefits of an Internship to Experienced Students

While traditionally, internships are taken by students to gain their first exposure to the work environment, there is still much to gain from the experience by seasoned veterans.  These returning learners are obviously going back to school to better themselves through continued education. Many are retooling their skills to a new industry or for updated technology.  Others had put off their education for one reason or another and have hit a ceiling in their career pathway.  Either way, these students can offer a different perspective both to companies and to other interns.

The internship affords students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in the workplace.  For returning students with a current employer, this could be enhancing their role through work on a new project.  This ‘learning experience’ project is often a way for these students to increase their value with their current employer.  In the past I have had CIOs, Marketing Directors, and other executive level students participate in the internship program.  While this seems in contrast to what a typical internship is supposed to be, many of these interns have had extraordinary experiences during the experiential learning session.  The internship experience can be as beneficial as you make it.

By Shane S. Kirby, MBA
Internship Program Coordinator
Business Programs, Integrated Media & Technology
Columbus State Community College

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The Value of Interns from a Two-Year Institution

One of the great challenges of working with community colleges and other two-year institutions is overcoming the misconceptions that exist.

These schools do offer cost-effective means for entry-level college students to learn their own interests and abilities.  However, the student body has an amalgamation of different backgrounds and skills.  A great, and often untapped, value exists with hosting these students as interns in an organization.

Career Oriented Students
First, companies should understand these institutions attract many career oriented students who know exactly what they want to do.  They desire technical specific learning in a field and do not want to take many of the liberal art requirements which a four-year university requires.  When these students search for an internship, they have a personal dedication and qualified technical education that is specific to that industry.

Experienced Workers
Additionally, the student may be returning to school to learn a new set of skills.  In fact, a number of two-year students already have associates, bachelors, and even graduate degrees from other schools.  They may be trying to enhance their resume for a new position or change the direction of their career to a new industry.  For example, a number of Computer Science majors may have experience working in older languages or software and are constantly struggling to stay current with the newest technology.  A two-year school allows for an efficient means for these students to continue their education and select the learning that is right for them.  Upon the end of their degree, these students are excellent candidates for internships and can offer valuable understanding and insight to an employer based on their past experiences.

Many two-year intern candidates, including the aforementioned returning students, are working adults. These students may not have prior educational training, but do have strong experience working in a professional environment.  They are better adapted to working in teams, thinking critically, and solving typical problems that businesses encounter.  These students are looking to capitalize on their work experience by compounding it with additional education.

Companies need to consider the true makeup of two-year students.  By limiting the internship to only bachelor seeking students employers are performing a disservice to their organization by missing out on some of their best candidates.

By Shane S. Kirby, MBA
Internship Program Coordinator
Business Programs, Integrated Media & Technology
Columbus State Community College

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Five Components of an Effective Internship Posting

Once your organization has decided to develop an internship program, start the process of creating your internship posting.  This is where you set the expectations of the internship. Be descriptive without being excessive.  A long posting will likely be skimmed or passed over.  Prepare a focused message.  The following are five key parts to an effective internship posting.

Introduction.  Provide a brief introduction to your company.  Approach this as though you are writing to someone who has never heard of you.   Speak to what type of business you are in and what role you play in the industry.  Feel free to tout your company a little, but be concise.  This is only an introduction.

Position Description.  This is the meat of the posting, where you discuss what the intern will do.  Start with intern title (i.e. Marketing Intern) then briefly describe what you are looking for in an intern.  Think of what major(s) would be appropriate for your position. Include the primary responsibilities that the intern will handle. Establish timeframe, hours, etc.  If you are working with a particular educational institution, remember to align your position to their internship standards.   The school will likely have a minimum requirement of hours per week and length of the internship.

Desired Characteristics.  The next section describes the experience, skills, and behavior that you desire of intern candidates.  Think about what is necessary to accomplish the duties, but remember that this is for student interns.  Don’t overstate your expectations and miss out on some great candidates.

Benefits.  What is the student going to get from this experience?  Include compensation information, if applicable, but also describe intangible benefits that you may be able to offer.  This may be in the form of networking opportunities, training programs, event participation, certifications, etc.

Contact.  The final component to the posting consists of contact information for how the student should apply for the position.  Remember to include a method that will be accessible and often reviewed.  Follow up with applicants.  They will likely be applying for multiple positions.  A quick response time will ensure you first access to the best possible candidates.

Once you have the posting developed, contact your local educational institutions to get your position in front of students.  Finally, while you want to define the position effectively on the front end, realize that your final candidate may have additional skills that they will be able to display.  Allow flexibility in their role to be able to make the best possible use of your intern.  The student will appreciate you helping to tailor the final responsibilities around their skill set.

By Shane S. Kirby, MBA
Internship Program Coordinator
Business Programs, Integrated Media & Technology
Columbus State Community College

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Effective Onboarding

The first week of the internship is the most important to establish the tone of the experience. Both mentors and students have a responsibility to begin the semester well to allow the greatest satisfaction for all parties.  If you are a company hosting an intern, be sure you create an effective onboarding process.

Welcome the intern
The intern should be welcomed with open arms into your organization.  Think about how regular employees are introduced into the environment.  Give the intern a tour of the facility and make sure they feel like part of the team.  An intern that is invested on a personal level is much more likely to be highly productive.

Provide the intern with their tools
Additionally, productivity can only be achieved if the intern has the right tools.  The company should have a dedicated space for the intern and if possible, office supplies, desk, and needed technology.

Set the internship expectations and goals for the semester
Planning is one of the most important steps in the onboarding process.  Take the time to sit down and discuss the duties the intern is responsible for and determine what objectives are appropriate.  Remember to develop goals that are optimistic and specific, but also reasonable and obtainable.

Mentor the student and enhance their learning
This planning is a foundation that leads to a strong mentoring relationship with your student intern.  Keep the momentum going and provide feedback to your intern, be available for feedback, and have regular discussions on their progress.

By Shane S. Kirby, MBA
Internship Program Coordinator
Business Programs, Integrated Media & Technology
Columbus State Community College

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Internship Mythbusting

Fiction: A company should only interview interns who are bachelor degree seeking students.

Fact: Many companies are surprised to discover that most community college student interns have many of the same technical skills (if not more so) than that of four year students.  While the liberal arts requirements aren’t the same, the curriculum related to their discipline receives a higher focus.  Associate degree programs are rigorous and concentrated; therefore, many companies discover that a two year student has had more advanced training in a specific field sooner.  Additionally, a capstone internship (like those at Columbus State) are participated by students at the end of their study who should have most of the workplace technical skills to contribute immediately.

Fiction: A company should only interview traditional college aged students for their internship position.

Fact: While historically most interns are traditional college students, few employers ever consider the abundant benefits of engaging a non-traditional student intern. Numerous adult learners are returning to college campuses to retrain and retool their education.

Most adult students have work experience and therefore already can function in a professional environment with little guidance.  The busy lifestyle that is required with returning to school typically has helped to develop excellent organizational and time management skills in non-traditional students.

Fiction: The process of finding an intern is so cumbersome that only large organizations can participate.

Fact: While larger companies have greater resources to individually manage internship programs, many small organizations participate every year with local colleges to provide meaningful and valuable internship to students.  Most colleges have departments dedicated to helping a company get the position setup and posted to the right students.

Columbus State’s internship website provides a step-by-step walk-through of the process.

Fiction: Students only participate in summer internships.

Fact: Traditional internships took place in the summer; however, with the transition to credit based programs, most colleges offer internships year round.  In fact, most internship are now taken during the school year.  An important thing to remember is that many of these programs correspond to the academic calendar (Autumn, Spring, Summer) so be sure to get your position posted ahead of time when students are searching for next semester.

Fiction: Companies should not expect much help from an intern.

Fact: Completely false.  Interns not only are able, but are required to contribute to the organization. A list of example projects that can be completed based on major can be found here on the website.

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Simple Improvements to Your Resume

Over the quarter, I review many resumes from students.  Some are very well contrived and others need an extensive amount of guidance.  The average resume is reviewed for around 10-15 seconds and then saved or discarded.  If you want any chance in moving forward in the process, a few easy fixes can make your resume stay out of the trash.

Use a Template. Use some type of template when developing a resume.  It can be one you create on your own or an existing one from the internet or Microsoft Word. The important aspect of this is structure.  Make your name noticeable at the top and use bullet points for each section. Your resume must be organized and easily readable.  The important information should be easily identifiable.

Lose the Objective Statement. The objective statement is really just an arbitrary statement of fluff words and frankly wastes most reviewers time. In making the critical information easily found, add an “Accomplishments” or “Achievement” section instead of the “objective”. List three to five key accomplishments that you have achieved. It could be making deans list, a previous degree, earning a promotion at work, or implementing a new training or management system at one of your jobs.  One of these points might also include your previous internships.

Specify your Work Experience. For you experience section, focus your bullet points effectively. Start with your most relevant duties to what you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying for a computer science internship, the first points should be relative to technology you worked with at that employer.  Bullet points should never state you did “day to day work” or “everyday tasks”.  They are not needed as anyone would assume you had everyday tasks.  If you have a number of jobs as your previous employment, narrow it down to the most recent and related three or four.

If you have any specific accomplishments, list them.  For example: Developed training process for new employees helping onboard over 20 new staff members. Add defined accomplishments including the number of people training, dollars raised, etc. Be specific and give examples of what you did.

Once you weave these easy adjustments into your resume, you have a much better chance at making that elusive first cut.  Good luck on your search.

By Shane S. Kirby, MBA
Internship Program Coordinator
Business Programs, Integrated Media & Technology
Columbus State Community College

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Three Easy Ways to Add Creativity to Your Resume

The current employment environment has made it difficult for job seekers to stand out among the masses. The key to any creative addition is moderation. One simple creative addition is enough to stand out and appear technologically proficient. If you go overboard, your resume may get overcrowded and appear complicated. Also, remember your audience. If you are applying for a marketing, graphic design, or other creative type opportunity, more creativity will be necessary to prove your applicable abilities. Computer science, finance and accounting majors should probably stick to a more conservative approach.

Quotes. A simple way to add something new to your resume is by including short quotes from your contacts. You can include a quote from a LinkedIn recommendation or perhaps from performance reviews. Incorporate positive quotes that highlight accomplishments. These quotes can be added to your accomplishments or experience section. For creative candidates, integrate the quote(s) into the sidebars or the footer.

QR Codes. Quick Response Codes or “QR” codes are rapidly growing in popularity with the increase in mobile communication technology. When you scan or read a QR code with your iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled Smartphone, you can link the code to digital content on the web; activate a number of phone functions including email, IM and SMS; and connect the mobile device to a web browser. Adding a QR code to your resume is relatively simple and shows you are tech savvy, creative, and have proficiency in mobile communications.

First, you should determine a link for your QR code. A LinkedIn profile (http://www.linkedin.com), personal website, or online resume, such as VisualCV (http://www.visualcv.com) are all appropriate. Copy the link location for your profile and paste it into a QR code generator (a generator found through a Google search). The application will present you with an image file to save on your computer.

Word Clouds. Develop a word cloud of your resume to highlight the most prominent words about you. Using a free application such as http://www.wordle.net/, you can copy and paste your resume into the box. The word cloud evaluates the text by the most used words and makes them more prominent in the cloud. You can then delete words that are not relevant (such as “the”) and change the style of the cloud to fit your style. Feel free to add additional copies of words that you want to see more prominently. For instance, include insert your name multiple times in the submission box to make it larger in the word cloud. ­­­­

There are many other creative components and styles you can incorporate into your resume. Searching the web can provide you with great ideas and templates to use. However, remember that there is a fine line between creativeness and professionalism. Know your target audience and customize the resume for the company to which you are applying.

By Shane S. Kirby, MBA
Internship Program Coordinator
Business Programs, Integrated Media & Technology
Columbus State Community College

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Complete the Review Cycle: 360 Degree Evaluations

Each semester, reports are completed to establish a “360 degree” evaluation of the program from the perspective of the mentor, intern, and institution.  In the final week of the internship, the student will complete an evaluation which will include rating scales and open ended questions to assess the quality of the employing company and mentor along with the internship program.  The mentor will also complete an evaluation of the intern’s work during the experience along with gauging their satisfaction in the overall program, inclusive of suggestions for improvement.  These evaluations will be returned to the program coordinator at the culmination of the internship.  Additionally, the faculty coordinator will complete their component of the evaluation by grading the student on their work during the internship and completing a small questionnaire regarding the mentor and sponsoring company.  All evaluation results will be submitted to the Internship Program Coordinator each semester.

By creating and maintaining an established process for a complete review cycle, the program is able to adapt to concerns and promote successes.

By Shane S. Kirby, MBA
Internship Program Coordinator
Business Programs, Integrated Media & Technology
Columbus State Community College

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