Congratulations! All that finger crossing worked out, and you got that big summer internship you were hoping for. Of course, it’s important to keep the long-term in mind, so now that you’re momentarily employed, don’t forget that you want to be employed in the future, too. With that in mind, it’s entirely possible that your internship could eventually turn into a full-time job. Here’s how to swing it:
- Make a good impression. It’s true that first impressions are everything, but if you want your internship to lead to full-time employment then you should do your best to make the best impression you can every day. Show up on time, work hard, and show that you’re grateful for the opportunity. After all, your application was likely chosen out of a huge pile of others. Show your value.
- Offer what you can. Without being overbearing, show your employer all that you’re capable of, even if it’s not in your job description. That doesn’t mean you should try to be superman or superwoman, but it’s good to show that you have a wide range of abilities.
- Keep in touch. There’s no way your current internship will lead to full-time employment if you don’t keep in touch. Make an effort to build workplace relationships so that it’s not awkward when you leave, and that keeping in touch becomes natural. That way, if a full-time position comes up you could be first in line to hear about it. You already have that foot in the door, so take advantage of it.
- Watch your lunch break. Of course you deserve a relaxing lunch break, but make sure you don’t turn it into a mini one-day vacation. If your employer notices that you’re gone from your desk more often than you should be, then the end result won’t likely be to your favor. That being said, don’t sell yourself short: definitely take a breather when you need it.
- Smile. No one wants a full-time sour puss in their midst, so even if you’re having a bad day, show that you’re a good workplace personality by smiling for the camera, or at least your fellow peers.
Let’s say you’ve just graduated college. (Congratulations!) And now let’s say you live in the middle of nowhere—or at least close to it—and so, out of necessity, you’ve applied to jobs in other places. And now let’s say you’ve managed to land a job in that faraway place. (Congratulations again!) Now, while there’s a lot to celebrate—you’re employed, after all—you need to plan ahead and eventually adjust to moving away and starting to work. Here’re some tips to help smooth the potentially rocky transition:
- Learn the lay of the land. Don’t just plop yourself down in a new location if you can help it. In other words: don’t show up sights-unseen. Instead, get a cheap bus or train ticket and go visit, walk around, and get a feel for the area. That way, it won’t be as big and scary when you’re there for real. At the very least, you’ll be able to have a few landmarks in mind so you don’t keep getting lost.
- Call around. It’s a little intimidating moving to a new place, right? So don’t be too bashful to look to others for help. For instance, if you’re moving to a big metropolitan city, then chances are you have friends in that city, or at least know of a familiar person or two. With that in mind, reach out and connect, and plan to meet up once you’re there. That way, you won’t be a stranger in a strange land. Plus it’ll be easier to get your bearings.
- Keep in touch. It’s easy to get a little flustered when you’re in a new place, or even a little homesick, so to stave off those kinds of feelings, keep in touch with your friends and family back home. If you take advantage of online tools like Skype and Facetime, and as long as you put the effort in, it’ll seem like you never even left.
- Look ahead. You have a new life ahead of you. How can that not be at least a little exciting? It’s okay to be nervous, maybe even a little scared, but hey, you’ll survive, and you’ll make the best of whatever comes your way. In other words: half the battle is simply thinking positive thoughts.
- If all else fails, view work as a social opportunity. Chances are you’re working with at least some people who are your age and have your interests. Just because they’re co-workers doesn’t mean they can’t also be friends. So if you’ve moved across the country for a job and don’t know anyone, reach out to people at the office. They, too, probably know what’s it’s like to be new.
If your heart rate is a little faster than usual it might be because you’re in the thick of job-application season, so take a breather and slow down in order to make sure you have all the essentials in check. For example: the resume. It’s perhaps the single most important piece of paper you’ll ever send out, as it gets your foot in the door with potential employers. So to make sure you’re resume is doing its job properly, avoid the following:
- Weighing it down with junk. No one wants to know every single thing you’ve ever done ever. Instead of junking up the page with each volunteer opportunity, extracurricular activity, or academic credential, cull out what’s most important. Your resume isn’t a catalog of your life, but instead a streamlined list of what you’ve experienced and achieved in relation to what you’re applying for. In other words: make every word count.
- Stuff that happened a long time ago. If you avoid the above pitfall, you should have no trouble avoiding this one, too. In general, potential employers don’t want a laundry list of, say, your high school achievements. As impressive as they are, if you can’t speak to collegiate or internship experience, then you won’t be taken as seriously as you might be hoping.
- Generalizations. It’s always good to put a “Skills” section on your resume: just a short list of what you’re competent at. For example, if you’re a social media wizard, go ahead and say you’re proficient in the art of Facebook and Twitter. Don’t just put down something general, though, like “media.” There are a lot of different kinds of media, and if you want to be taken seriously you have to get specific.
- Clunky grammar and syntax. There’s no reason why you have to fill up your resume with paragraphs of explanations about your experiences. Chances are if you have to write down a ton of words to explain yourself then you’re doing it wrong, and getting clunky. Instead, write out short, effective lists with efficient and powerful verbs. For example, have you ever helped someone create an organized list of contacts for a specific purpose? Well, then, you might say: “developed a database.”
- Errors. If even one spelling error shows up on your resume then that might be enough to blow your chances, considering you’re going up against many others. So be careful, and proofread, proofread, proofread.
If you’re the ambitious type, then you might have more than one academic interest, meaning you may want to major in more than one subject. Most schools allow you to do so, but urge you to really know what you’re doing if you want to double down on the intensity of your studies. If you’re thinking a double major might be in your academic cards, then here are some pros and cons to help you decide:
- You get more than one advisor. Whether you want to major in a combination of English, history, theatre, art, mathematics, physics, music, computer science, or whatever, you’re going to need an academic advisor for each subject. While setting up meetings to meet with your advisors might get hectic around the time you have to choose classes, it might be worth it to have two mentors who know you and your academic strengths well. In other words: double the major, double the faculty attention and help.
- You’ll have a packed schedule. Sometimes it’s hard enough to squeeze in all the electives you want even when you have just one major, so if you have two you’ll definitely have to make some decisions regarding which subject you’ll never get the chance to explore. That might not be a bad thing, though, as you’ll always know what your academic plan is, and your academic direction will never be up in the air.
- It’s a resume builder. If you have a double major, and when you put that on your resume, prospective employers will be able to tell that you’re hardworking, determined, resourceful, and all kinds of other positive adjectives, making you an attractive fit in the workplace. But, that being said, if you know what your career path is going to be (say, an accountant), then it won’t help to just double major in anything. Instead, play to your strengths with the future in mind, and become as qualified as you can for what you want to do.
- You’ll make more friends. Classes you take in your major will require more intense work, and you’ll be in smaller classes and seminars as you go along. So what does that mean, really? More people to commiserate with about how much you wish academics would make like a bad check and bounce, meaning more friends, and more friends is never a bad thing. The problem with a double major, on the other hand, is that you may not have time to hang out with all the friends you’ll make.
- You’ll have more to talk about. The more you major in, the more knowledge you have, making you a master of random trivia and interesting conversation. Can’t beat that.
Now that you’ve received all of your acceptance letters, you might be freaking out. After all, deciding which college to attend is a big deal, as it’s a four-year investment that leads you down a particular road in life. So while a college degree is a college degree no matter which way you slice it, every campus is a different experience. Here’s some advice to help you choose:
- Read, read, and read some more. Instead of making your decision on your own, stand on the shoulders of others (meaning: alumni or current students) and take in all the advice you can. Search the Internet and read a few blogs about peoples’ experiences at each school, look at important statistics such as retention rates, and read up on the location of your school, too.
- Talk. Take advantage of the resources around you. For example, your high school guidance counselor would be happy to help you if you’re stuck in a rut about what choice to make. Chances are your counselor will know a lot about each school, having watched other students attend them.
- Check your pockets. Like I said, college is a four-year investment—literally. College is an expensive decision, and if you go too far into debt then you’ll regret the decision no matter what. In short: be realistic. If you don’t think you can afford a particular college, then you most likely can’t; don’t delude yourself into thinking you can, and attend the school that’s within financial reach.
- Make a list. Instead of trying to keep track of everything in your head, make a concrete list of the pros and cons of each school. Make it a long list, and take everything you can think of into consideration. Then, it’s simple: the school with the most pros is your best bet.
- Take a close look at the curriculum. While it might be hard to map out your entire academic career, try reflecting on what you might like to do when you leave school. Then, once you have an idea of what you want to do, you can choose a college based on exactly what it has to offer—as some schools are well-known only for certain fields of study.