Eeek! Dealing with Monsters in the Office

31 10 2013

Happy Halloween from Campus to Career!  As I drove home yesterday, I got to thinking about how monsters are present in the workforce.  Yes, REAL monsters.  Scary, huh?  Here’s a fun creature feature on the four most common monsters on the job.  Enjoy!

draculaDracula.  This guy sucks the life out of people.  Literally.  He’s the Prince of Darkness and this kind of co-worker is seriously out to get you. His survival depends on it.  Beware of vampires at work.  They hang out in the shadows, are blood-thirsty and they’re no good for anyone.  The best way to work with vampires is to stay in the sunlight (use positive thinking even when they try to suck the life out of you) and keep a list or display of daily affirmations (aka your “garlic”) around you to stay motivated and focused.

Frankenstein's_monster_(Boris_Karloff)

Frankenstein’s Monster.  He has the best of everything.  Seriously.  Not to be confused with Dr. Frankenstein himself, his Monster is a mash-up of all the very best body parts and organs.  Not the most vocal of monsters, he grunts and groans (or screams if there’s fire) but is typically a harmless being.  Don’t let him derail your meetings with his outbursts.  When he gets out of line, just give him a kitten.  He’s a softie on the inside.  (A hug also works if you don’t have a kitten handy.  The poor guy just needs to know he’s appreciated.)

wolfmanThe  Wolfman.  This guy works long hours.  In fact, you could call him a night creature.  When the moon is full, the Wolfman is working at maximum efficiency.  Well, as long as he stays away from silver-tipped objects.  Working with the Wolfman requires flexibility because his schedule isn’t the typical 9-to-5.  He gets the work done when he’s most productive.  Keep that in mind when assigning projects and deadlines.  Just remember to bring your lint brush and never mind the occasional baying at the moon.

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The Zombie.  Zombies are perhaps the most common monster at work.  You know the type:  They drag themselves into the office every morning, moaning and groaning about how tired they are from last night’s activity (which may or may not have entailed eating brains.)  Zombies feed off of other people, bringing others down with them.  The best part of Zombies?  Their work ethic.  They’ll stop at nothing!  Focus your Zombies on a project they can complete, giving them explicit directions.  Then, let them go!  PS. Click here to see what you get when you add music to Zombies at work.

Looking for a new brain for your monster?  Just don’t send this guy:

Young-Frankenstein_l

What other monsters are in your workplace??  Let’s do the Monster Mash!!

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Your Spring Internship is Right Under Your Nose

29 10 2013

Right-Under-Your-Nose-300x296Summer isn’t the only season for gaining hands-on experience and adding fodder to your resume. A spring internship could be just what you need to kick-start your career.

The spring semester is right around the corner. So, if you’re late to the spring internship search or just struggling to find a worthy opportunity, you’re not alone. According to a recent InternMatch study, 46.5 percent of students begin searching for their internship between one and three months prior to their chosen internship season.

Don’t sweat your spring internship search. An opportunity might be right under your nose. Here are a few tips to help you land an awesome internship.

1. Go virtual. Maybe you’ve been hunting for the perfect internship in your area only to come up short. No problem–there’s tons of virtual internships available out there.

Pivot your internship search to hone in on virtual internships across the country. You’ll gain valuable experience and be able to juggle a busy schedule of school and work while you manage your internship from home or a coffee shop.

2. Create an internship proposal. It may sound crazy, but have you ever considered creating your own internship? If struggling to land an internship in your small college town or a surrounding location, proposing an internship to an employer might help you get hired.

Reach out to employers with a one page summary of why they should take you on as an intern. This document is similar to a job proposal and it should explain what you can bring to the position, along with your internship goals. Don’t forget to ask for fair compensation.

3. Transform your volunteer opportunities. Are you an avid volunteer for one or a few nonprofit organizations? If so, it may be time to utilize your connections within this organization. Even if they don’t have an intern role available for you, they may know someone who does. Or, pitch your expertise for the creation of a new internship role.

4. Actually utilize your career center. Far too many college career centers go underutilized by students. If you’re struggling to land a spring internship, head over to your career center to get some advice. Their staffers are bound to have some insight into available internship opportunities, and they also have great connections.

5. Hit up your part-time job. If you currently hold a part-time position at a large corporation, consider using your connections to look for an internship within. Your position as a retail associate may be a kicking off point for a more major-specific internship position within the company.

6. Ask everyone. Current and previous co-workers, friends, family, professors, neighbors–everyone needs to know about your internship search. Getting a direct referral to an internship position can be a powerful thing, and you never know who might be your connecting point. Update everyone on the status of your spring internship hunt.

7. Set up informational interviews. Do you admire someone at a company you’re hoping to intern for? Contact them to set up an informational interview to learn more about their career.

Offer to take them out to coffee or chat with them on the phone to gain a new perspective on their position and the ups and downs they’ve experienced as a professional. You never know, this might put you in contact with a great opportunity.

Switch up your traditional internship search to make sure you don’t miss out on a great opportunity this spring!

What’s the most unique way you’ve landed an internship?

For this post, Campus to Career thanks our friends at InternMatch!

About the author: Ashley Mosley is Community Engagement Manager of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. Connect with Ashley and InternMatch on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.





Informational Interviews: Get the 4-1-1

22 10 2013

Informational Interviews

Photo Courtesy of Levo League

Making new connections and reaching out to old ones is the best way to learn more about the career path you want to take. Informational interviews with your contacts, and your contacts’ contacts, can help you decide what you would like to do with your future. Professionals who are in careers you are interested in are the best people to talk to. They can clue you in on what they do and the challenges they face. These interviews can help focus your life and drive your career forward.

You may be wondering if anyone would be willing to help answer your questions. However, by pursuing contacts you have already connected with and reaching out to family, friends, coworkers, and other connections, you are guaranteed to find someone who would love to help someone just starting out in their career. Informational interviews can help you explore different careers you are interested in, find new employment opportunities, identify challenges you may face, and help you work on your weaknesses.

Informational interviews can be formal or informal and last 20 to 30 minutes. Once you have found a contact you would like to interview, reach out to them by email or a phone call. Keep it simple and be straightforward. Once you have set up a time and place, it’s time to do some research. Research the person’s career path and their company.

When you know the basics, you can come up with a few questions. Perhaps you’ll want to ask:

  • What do you enjoy the most about your job?
  • What do you wish someone had told you when you started your career?
  • Do you know anyone else you think I should talk to?

Depending on how formal your interview is, dress appropriately; if it’s formal, dress like you would to an interview. If it’s more casual, dress appropriately but put together. Start your interview by giving your elevator pitch, a short summary of who you are and what makes you a great candidate for a job. Explain what you are looking to do with your future and what you are hoping to get out of the interview. During the interview, stay engaged and take notes to get the most out of the experience.

After the informational interview, send a thank you note much like you would after a regular job interview. If the interview went well, keep them updated on your career; you may form a mentorship relationship! Hearing stories and advice from professionals can be rewarding and can help you on your own career path. These interviews can put you a step ahead when finding a job and help you stand out from the crowd.

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For this post, Campus to Career thanks our friends at CollegeFocus!

About the author: Priya Sudendra is a junior at the University of Colorado and a staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.

You can follow CollegeFocus on Twitter and Facebook.





Regain Your Focus: Stop Chasing Squirrels!!

15 10 2013

Regain Your Focus: Stop Chasing Squirrels!!Think about your day, your week…  Are you doing what you need to do in order to advance your strategic objectives?  Or are you living moment to moment, email by email?  In this world of constant communication and inevitable distraction, are you staying focused?  It’s tough, right?

NOTE: I’m writing this post based on personal experience.  Yep, this happens to me!  It’s good to reflect.

The basis for this blog post: People have good ideas.  In fact, most people just want to help make us better than we already are.  Remember that.  When someone pitches a billion new ideas to you, think to yourself: can you execute these ideas?  What will it take?  What advances your goals?  Are you doing the new just because it’s new??

A word of caution: If you don’t watch out, you’ll end up doing what I like to call “chasing squirrels.”  Ever tried to catch a squirrel before?  (Okay, maybe it’s just me…) 🙂  Catching a squirrel is really hard to do!  The little buggers zig and zag, making it nearly impossible to anticipate their next move.  They’re not focused and they’re doing all they can to disrupt your focus.

Here’s how you can handle squirrel chasing situations with people at work:

Listen.  Hear them out.  There may be some really great ideas that align with your objectives.  Watch out for the ideas that have you chasing our furry metaphoric friends.  Bonus tip: Be sure to listen with both ears – this isn’t the time to combat their ideas. 

Acknowledge.  Let them know you were listening.  If the person has good ideas, tell them.  Chances are, you’ll be able to take a few, tweak them, and implement them to benefit your overall organization.

Share your perspective.  Put them in your shoes.  Help them understand your challenges and tactical issues at hand.  People who have all the great ideas typically don’t think about how they’ll be implemented.  Those fantastic “pie in the sky” ideas may just be too far-reaching for a small team to execute.

Say yes (or no) and ACTIVATE the Thinkers!  This is your time to choose.  Does it make sense?  No?  Then don’t do it!  If it does align with your objectives, you have the available resources at hand and can execute the project effectively, then get started!  Establish your timeline, expectations and action steps for each person involved.  Be sure to involve the Thinker in the execution process.  That way, they’ll see their ideas being implemented, but more importantly, see how challenging the process can be.  They might think twice before offering up a bazillion wild ideas in your next meeting, suggesting only one or two realistic changes instead.

You have to be honest with yourself and with your colleagues.  They should respect the fact that you’re focused on the strategic objectives at hand.  This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but doing these few things can help you go from squirrel chaser to official Squirrel Wrangler.  Go ahead.  Give it a try!





3 Things You Can Do to Get Your Foot in the Door

8 10 2013

foot in doorAfter graduating or even better…you read this long before you get to the end stages of your education. Your top priority will be finding out how to best launch yourself into the job market, and how to land that terrific job that everyone else probably wants too. Besides getting the best education your college has to offer and absorbing as much of it as you can, here are a few tips that should give you some food for thought and a push in the right direction.

1.      Networking

This should be at the top of your list. Take advantage of the many channels of communication open to you today. Social media, such as Facebook, can be invaluable. Let your friends know what you are striving for and why you are going to kill it. Ask them if they know anyone in the field or the company you are interested in working for. Find out if they offer benefits such as income protection. You’d be surprised how often you can obtain important information such as: positions that will be opening due to someone retiring, company growth, hiring strategies and more. But careful, this sword has two sides. Many employers today check your Facebook profile to see who you are and what you’ve been up to. Not because they want to know how many beers you can drink in an hour but to judge your character by your actions and affiliations. This is just one more reason to be careful with what you post. Ride the shirttails of those who went before you. There’s that senior you were acquainted with in your freshman year. Maybe he’s an entry level employee at the company you are interested in and, by the time you graduate, he may have moved up the ladder and be willing to introduce you for his “old” position.

2.      Who’s the Boss

Once you have zeroed in on the company you would like to be a part of, do your homework. You may already know some of the answers to these questions, but if you don’t, find out.

  • Who started the business?
  • What is the objective of the company?
  • What’s the company credo?
  • Who is their competition?
  • Where do they rank in their sector?

This is information that, can help you recognize what you need to do in order to be accepted and show your deep interest in the company.

3.      Volunteer

Volunteering for a few weeks during your semester breaks, is a great way to introduce yourself into a company. You might not be earning anything now, but this can pay off big time later. You will have the inside loop of what is going on and can better evaluate what department you would best fit and enjoy. You’ll know who is in charge of the department and what they expect from an employee in that position. And you’re there! Show them what you’ve got.  Stay in touch when you’re back at college. A short email now and then, to stay at the top of the list, will do.

If you take these steps you are going to have a head start into your future and, most likely, succeed. After all it takes knowledge, ambition and the right attitude to go after a rewarding career and you do!

*****Campus to Career would like to thank Arlene Chandler for this great guest post!*****

Arlene Chandler headshotAbout the author: Arlene Chandler has accumulated her business acumen while working for a real estate firm in Seattle and works as a freelance writer for Suncorp, a specialist income protection provider in Australia.





Get Involved, Get Experience

1 10 2013

With today’s generation of new graduates and the emerging workforce there is one theme that is becoming more common: the idea of corporate social responsibility, or CSR. Without diving deep into the very concept of CSR, I’d like you to think about how this affects you, as both a job seeker and citizen. Generation Y is known for many things – many of these things of which aren’t positive. But, one thing that is positive is the generation’s desire to give back, make a difference in others’ lives, and empower them to create a better life for themselves.

This week, I have the pleasure of experiencing social responsibility and economic empowerment on a level that gives me great inspiration and hope that the world will be a better place; thanks to the impact this generation has the opportunity to make on their communities. That experience is summed up in one event: Enactus World Cup. Enactus’ mission is to enable progress through entrepreneurial action. The World Cup brings together the top young professionals (college students) and the top business executives from around the world in an event where each country (the countries have university teams that give an audio/visual presentation on the impact of their community projects, evaluated on how they empowered those in need to help increase their standard of living and overall quality of life.) There were 34 countries represented at this year’s event.

Here are few testimonials from Enactus students around the world:

When I think of the impact they have on their fellow man, the incredible experience they’re gaining through this organization, and how they’re changing the world, I’m left inspired, motivated, and to be honest, quite humbled.

As a job seeker, it’s to your advantage to get involved with your community. This is a great way to gain leadership experience, project management skills, and be part of the greater good. So, here are my tips for those of you that are weighing your options with this:

Find your fit. There are plenty of worthy organizations in your local community, state, and nation. Find what fits you the best. Ask yourself: “What am I passionate about?” Then, do a little research on organizations that support your cause. Google it. Call your church. Ask a friend, co-worker or family member. They’ll know where to start.

Actively participate. Once you find your fit, participate. Don’t just show up. Show up with a purpose. Come with some ideas, but most of all, simply ask where you can help the most. Offer your expertise – don’t take it for granted.

Be humble. Regardless of the cause that you decide to support, chances are, you’ll be helping people, animals, or the environment to name a few. I’ve learned that humility goes a long way. No one wants to hear (ALL the time) how much you give back to the community, help people, etc. If you toot your horn too much, your involvement begins to sound self-serving vs. serving the cause.

Document your experience. If you’re a job seeker (or not), document your experience! Did you lead a team or project? Did you have to communicate the impact of your projects to an audience? How many people did you help impact and how? Knowing how to answer these questions will not only help you write your resume, but it will also add a great aspect: active, unpaid community involvement. That goes a long way – sometimes farther than actual “job” experience!

This isn’t meant to be a commercial about Enactus, but I do want to let you know that I work for the organization. I can only say great things about what we’re doing on the local, regional, national and global scale. The students involved are truly the future leaders of business. Businesses from Fortune 100 and 500 companies know this – that’s why they’re involved in the organization, seeing it as the premier business and higher education network, the leading source of effective, responsible business leaders, and a best-in-class non-profit organization. I would be happy to speak with anyone interested in learning more.

So, what are you waiting for? Go out and find someone to help, pay it forward, and build your engagement with the community!

About Enactus:

Enactus is an international non-profit organization that brings together student, academic and business leaders who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. Guided by academic advisors and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus create and implement community empowerment projects around the globe. The experience not only transforms lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world. For more information, please visit www.enactus.org.