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Last-Minute Internship Checklist: 5 Things Do to Score Your Dream Job

Last-Minute Internship Checklist: 5 Things Do to Score Your Dream Job

Summer, the season of internships, is approaching fast. Perhaps you’ve been looking for top-notch internships with no luck or maybe you’ve just been too busy to start the search. With the pages of the calendar rapidly turning, you might be starting to feel panic settling in.

As your friends and classmates talk about the great summer internships they’ve nabbed, you might start worrying you’ve already missed the boat. Don’t despair just yet! Even though summer is right around the corner, the perfect internship is still waiting for you.

After all, 97 percent of employers are looking to hire interns in 2014, according to projections from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. With so many industries looking to add interns to the ranks, your odds of nabbing something aren’t impossible, even at the last minute.

Here is a last-minute checklist to help you turbocharge your internship search and score the position you’ve been dreaming of:

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Contact Your Mentor

If you’ve developed a relationship with an industry mentor, now is the time to work those contacts. Call or email your mentor and invite them out for an informational coffee. Explain your situation and ask for industry advice for how to find a great internship or what you can do to impress potential employers.

Perhaps you’re missing volunteer experience or maybe you need to spend some time delving into the latest technology before applying for your dream internship. Whatever the case, a mentor highly involved in your industry of choice can provide great feedback and top-notch advice.

Item #2: Reach Out to Your Career Center

The career center at your school is there to help, yet far too many students ignore this font of professional wisdom. Make an appointment with your career counselor and explain your internship goals and the connection they’ll have to your future career.

As a bonus, going to your career center can help you think deeply and critically about the type of internship you want to acquire and how it fits into your career goals. If the only reason you’re pursuing a certain internship is because it sounds “cool,” perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your internship search.

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Establish Relationships on Social Media

Social media is a great want to make inroads with the movers and shakers in your industry, as well as other students and entry-level talent. Take part in chats and discussions in your industry of choice using social media tools.

For instance, you can add your two cents to a relevant discussion on LinkedIn or take part in an industry-specific Twitter chat. You might have to do some legwork and research to find out where your industry spends time online, but it’ll be worth it in the breadth of your expanding network of contacts.

Check Out Niche Job Boards

Since you’ve done your homework when it comes to where your industry spends time online, now it’s time to find the niche corners where jobs and internships are listed. Sometimes finding the jobs posted in your niche can require some elbow grease, so don’t be afraid to ask mentors and social media contacts for advice on where to look.

When you’ve found sites with internship listings, look for information about the company, its internship program, and the company culture. The more information you’re equipped with, the more likely you are to find the best fitting internship for you and improve your chances of nailing the interview.

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Attend Hackathons and Networking Events

The Internet can be great for making contacts, but often nothing beats a little face-to-face interaction. In fact, in one survey 95% of professionals preferred in-person meetings when it comes to developing long-term business relationships.

While it might be intimidating, go to an industry-specific networking event or career fair. If you’re looking to break into the tech field, there’s probably no better place than a hackathon to show off your concrete skills and impress employers.

Remember to bring copies of your resume, put on your best professional attire, and really listen to what others are saying at the event. Don’t spend all your time asking for jobs or advice; instead, try to offer any help you can to new contacts. Most people are networking only for their own benefit, so by listening to the needs of others, you’ve already made yourself stand out from the crowd.

Create Your Own Opportunities

Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you — instead, you might need to aggressively hunt down the internships you want. Focus on the companies you’d like to work for and try to cultivate contacts within the organization. Ask for informational coffees and look for opportunities even if there’s no job ad posted.

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If you can’t find an internship with your dream company, expand your reach and look for opportunities you might not have otherwise considered. You never know — the last-minute internship you take now might actually change the course of your career.

It might seem late in the game to find your perfect summer internship, but all hope isn’t lost. If you hustle now and check these items off your last-minute internship checklist, you can still end up with a great job come June.

What do you think? What’s on your last-minute internship checklist? Share in the comments!

Featured photo credit: Mind Mapping/inpivic via flickr.com

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5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

5 Powerful Ideas on How to Be Productive at Work

Not being able to stay productive at work is a problem that everyone runs into at some point; no matter how much you like your job, there are certain factors that prevent you from staying at maximum proficiency throughout the whole day.

A lack of productive focus at work can lead to extra stress on yourself, missed deadlines, passed opportunities, raise denial, demotion and even termination.

So, if you are someone who has trouble with your productivity, here are five effective tips on how to be productive at work:

1. Take breaks

First and foremost, it’s important for you to take regular breaks. Trying to work throughout the whole day will tire your brain, which will then cause you to doze off and think about something else.

If you keep working your brain, it will fill up and get jumbled with information—sort of like a computer hard drive. Taking a break would be like resetting your computer so that it can start afresh, or de-fragmenting the data so that all the information is in order.

This is a great thing because it allows you to solve problems you were unable to solve previously, by seeing it differently; if you are able to organize your thoughts properly, you will be able to take in new information more easily.

There have even been studies about methods of saving time and staying proficient, and taking breaks is one of the leading factors.

According to Christine Hohlbaum, the author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World, eating lunch away from your work area every day will greatly increase your productivity. Eating in your work area will give you the illusion that you are working, but whether you like it or not, your brain will begin to wander and think of something else and then you will be working tirelessly with no progress.

It’s important to take breaks before and during work too: if you come to work in a rush because you woke up late, your mind will not be mentally prepared for the day ahead, and you will spend the first 10 to 15 minutes trying to get organized and composed before you can actually start working.

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Instead, you should try to wake up 20 minutes earlier than the time it would take you to “just get” to work. Take that time to stare off into space and not worry about anything.

If you do this, your brain will be empty and ready for all the challenges it has coming for the next few hours.

If your employer only allows a set amount of breaks during the workday, that doesn’t mean you can’t just get up and walk around for a quick break every now and then.

Even if it’s only 5 minutes, it will refresh your brain and you will gain renewed energy to do your job.

Learn more about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

2. Pace yourself and balance your workload

One problem that most people run into is that they underestimate the amount of work they have to do, and end up doing 50% of the work in the last 20% of the time they have to do it. This is due to an issue of balancing one’s workload.

When you receive a project, or are doing a job you normally do, take some time to really plan out your work schedule.

Consider how much time it took you to do this last time; determine how you can break the project into smaller parts and which can only be accomplished on certain days, and whether anything might come up that could interfere with your plan.

All of these questions are important for starting on a project, and when answered, they will help you stay productive throughout each day.

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For example, if you needed to design a project to map out the amount of aid offered in various regions after Hurricane Sandy, you can break it up as follows:

You will need to know what organizations are offering help to begin with, how much aid those organizations gave or plan to give, which regions were hit by Sandy, and which regions suffered the greatest losses.

You start this project on a Thursday and know you have until Tuesday to gather this information.

In order to stay productive, you need to plan out your work week—now you know you can find out which organizations are involved in helping the Hurricane Sandy Victims any day since that information is online, but gathering information on the organizations may require you to call them.

Since phone calls can only be done during week days, you have to plan on gathering all of that information before the weekend comes.

That is just one example of a situation in which pre-planning your project will help you stay productive; had you researched the affected regions first, you would not have received the info on the organizations until the weekend, and may have missed your chance to call them.

That, in turn, would have wasted time you could have spent working on this project to finish it.

Knowing what you need to do, when you can do it, and how long it will take you, is important in balancing your workload and being more productive and efficient.

3. Put your work first

This is an issue that usually occurs with young people who are new to the workforce: they’re often tempted with offers to go out at midday, and then come back lost in thought and unfocused on their work-related tasks.

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While it is important to take breaks, your breaks should consist of you clearing your mind, not loading it up with other less important information—like sports.

However, that is not the only situation where you need to worry about putting your work first before all else.

In a work environment, the senior employees will oftentimes push some of their menial tasks onto the newer employees. If you fall into that category, you need to know that their work is not your work, so if you have tasks that need to be done, you need to do it first.

If you are a new employee, you must learn to say no to other people even when it means you may not be in their good graces anymore. You can help others out once your work is done, but you are paid to do your own work, not anyone else’s.

4. Don’t open your browser unless you need them

In this day and age, everyone is constantly monitoring their social network. This is a major pain point for companies, which is why many don’t allow employees to access their social networks on company workstations.

When you are at work, disconnect the internet from your phone and keep your browsers closed so you’re not tempted to log onto your social media accounts or browse any sites that are not work-related.

If you keep your browsers closed and phone tucked away, only to be used in an emergency, you will find yourself being a more productive employee right away. 

5. Try to be happy and optimistic

If you always have a negative outlook on life, you will be more distracted and less motivated to get work done, so it’s important for you to start your day off right.

This can be done by having a good breakfast or by taking time in the morning to watch one of your favorite TV shows before work.

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If you are happy, you will find yourself able to work much more productively as your mind won’t wander into worrying about something else.

Also, if you stay optimistic and keep telling yourself that you can do whatever you set your mind to, the tasks will seem much less daunting and will go by much more quickly.

Take a look at more effective ways to stay positive at work:

15 Ways To Stay Positive At Work

Happiness and optimism are the keys to being a productive and happy employee.

All in all, heed the five tips above and you will find yourself being one of the most productive people at your company.

While you do not need to master them all, each and every one of them will help you become a better and more efficient employee.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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