9 things to do at the end of your internship

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Jeremy Porter

Internships are 100 percent the No. 1 thing you’ll need on your resume to get that first job after college. The No. 2 thing you’ll need is proof you can write. Guess where you get that writing experience? Yep—internships.

To round out the list—and some will disagree with me on this—the No. 3 thing you need to land a job after college is connections. Again, if you play your cards right, you get some through internships.

If you did just put your internship to bed, or you’re about to, there are a few things I’d like you to do on your way out the door:

1. Say thank you.

Personally thank everyone you’ve worked with this summer. A handwritten note is my preference, but a sincere, verbal “thanks for the experience” is the minimum requirement. Provide specifics and leave the door open for future contact. For example: “I really wanted to thank you for the time you spent with me this summer. I know my knowledge on X, or what you taught me about Y will be useful in my career. I look forward to staying in touch as I continue my education or begin my search for my first job.”

2. Get connected.

Make sure you have people’s business cards. Make sure you’re following everyone on Twitter (or are subscribed to their blog). And for Pete’s sake, make sure you connect with them on LinkedIn. Turnover is high in PR and journalism; LinkedIn goes with people from job to job. This is how you’ll build your network over time. It’s important.

BONUS: If you did a great job in your internship (be honest, you know if you did or not), ask the highest-ranking person you worked with to recommend you on LinkedIn. Don’t be shy about this—endorsements on LinkedIn can save you time later on when you need references. Make it easier for the reference writer by giving them some starter points. 

For example: “Would you please write a recommendation for me on LinkedIn based on the work I did this summer? It would be great if you could comment on the work I did on project X or your satisfaction with the writing I did on Y.” 

Whatever it was that you did, having somebody comment on your work does a couple of things. It draws attention to you in their network, and it sticks with your profile for a long time.

3. Get your samples.

I hope you’ve been collecting copies of the work you did this summer. In most cases, the work you’ve done at your internship is the legal property of the agency or its clients. Make sure you ask your supervisor for permission to use those work samples in your portfolio. You’ll want electronic or hard copies of all the work you did this summer, because there’s no guarantee you can access this stuff later. Websites get replaced. Blog posts get deleted.

You might not think some of the things you worked on are relevant, but believe me, they will be. Save them all so you can customize your portfolio for each interview you do when you start your search.

4. Get coached.

You might be awesome. You might not. Regardless of what you think about yourself and your performance in this internship, ask your supervisor to suggest three areas you can improve on, based on his or her observations this summer. Tell them you want them to be brutally honest with you, because it’s the only way you’re going to improve. People would tell me how great my writing was in my internship, but when I look back a lot of it was sloppy and littered with errors (you know, like a lot of my blog posts). I wish they would have told me to keep working on my writing and editing, and that attention to detail is important.

5. Keep working?

Is there something you’ve done so well this summer that everyone is talking about it? Are people sad you’re leaving, because you don’t be able to do that thing anymore? Suggest to your boss that you keep doing it as a freelancer while you go to school. When I did my first internship in New York, I put together monthly clipping reports for clients (copies of all the press mentions for the month). They were a lot of work back then. I suggested I do the work from my dorm room in upstate New York. The company bought me a computer, leased a copier, and paid me a very good rate to do the reports each month. 

This type of opportunity is not the norm, but if you do something exceptional, you might be able to gain valuable work experience (and make some money) while you finish your coursework.

6. Stay in touch.

If you don’t keep working with them, be sure to stay in touch. Keep the lines of communication open. Let people know what interesting stuff you’re learning in school. Attend local Public Relations Society of America or press club events so you can socialize with former co-workers. Interview your co-workers for class projects (or consider inviting them to speak to one of your classes). Of course, if you’re following them on Twitter or Facebook, you can interact on a regular basis through those channels as well.

7. Say only good stuff.

There’s a chance you didn’t have a good experience this summer. Don’t talk about it publicly; it will get back to the agency. I’m not suggesting you lie to anybody, just don’t go around bashing the company that gave you a shot. (It will make people wonder what you say about them when they’re not around.) It’s OK to warn future internships professionally about what to expect, but keep it professional. Along the same lines, keep proprietary information confidential. Don’t talk about the new products clients are working on or their secrets to getting coverage in The New York Times. This will strengthen your own reputation over the course of your career.

8. Don’t burn bridges.

As an extension of No. 7, I have one “don’t” for the end of your internship. Don’t burn bridges. Even if you hated working with somebody with every ounce of your soul, don’t tell that person off on your last day. Don’t decide you’re never going to talk to that person again. It’s a mistake. If you follow the suggestions early on in this post with everyone you worked with this summer, you’ll establish a firm foundation for your network to grow in the future.

9. Share your experience.

You learned a lot this summer. Don’t keep it all to yourself. Blog about it. Talk about it in class. Encourage other students to pursue the same opportunities. Use that experience to fuel you. Learn more, keep practicing, and you will succeed. Share your experience and others will succeed with you—and that’s what it’s all about.

25 professional must-knows before turning 25

By Jenny Fukumoto

Last month, I turned 25. Since becoming gainfully employed, I’ve made a lot of professional mistakes—and learned a few things, along the way. Here are 25 of them—let me know if you agree, or what you would add to this list!

By 25, you should know how to:

1.      Take rejection with poise.

By the age of 25, you should’ve had to face some sort of professional rejection—my favorite was having my resume handed back to me after a job interview.

2.      Do your own bitch work.

Empathy is an important trait for all managers. Knowing what it’s like to do the grunt work makes you appreciate those who have to do it after you. Assuming that you are not above anything will help you soar in your career.

3.      Craft an appropriate LinkedIn connection invite request.

I don’t mind getting LinkedIn connection requests from random people, but it irritates me when they don’t have a tailored message and just use the standard LinkedIn invite line. Here’s an idea of something that could work: “Hi Jenny, I noticed we both work in the Chicago marketing scene and wanted to connect with you. Maybe I buy you a cup of coffee/tea in the near future, to learn more about what you do?”

4.      Ask for a raise.

When you’re worth more than you’re making, you need to know how to ask for more. After being out of school for three years, learn how to broach the topic. Not sure how to do that? Read this.

5.      Delegate work.

Delegation is an underrated action. By 25, you should know when it’s appropriate to delegate and how to do it. For example, if someone asks me to perform a task that is certainly within my power, but I don’t have the time for it, I look for the colleague it makes most sense to perform that task regularly, and ask them to do it.

6.      Know which battles to pick at work.

Not every battle is worth fighting – you should know which are worth your time and energy. Getting upset with the way someone sends incessant emails takes a backseat to someone who fails to communicate important pieces of information.

7.      When to unplug.

Once you answer that work email at 11 p.m., you set a precedent that you’re available 24/7. Unless it’s an emergency, try not to check your work email (or mark it unread and deal with it when you get to the office).

8.      Put in your 2 weeks’ notice.

If you’re lucky enough to have loved your first job out of college and are still there by 25, bravo! But you should know how to tactfully put in your two weeks’ notice, if you make a career move. This requires a written resignation. Here’s a great guide on doing the dirty deed.

9.      Tactfully give your business card at a networking event.

No one likes the business card ninja who swoops in, throws his or her card at you and leaves you stunned. First, have a conversation with someone. Find out stuff you have in common. And then, offer your card, as a way to stay in touch.

10.  Not get sloppy at a networking event.

An open bar doesn’t give you permission to act like you did at college frat parties. Have a few drinks to loosen up, but keep it professional.

11.  Prioritize your time.

For example, tackle your bigger work issues toward the beginning of the day and save your smaller, less important tasks for the end of the day when you’re winding down. Remember: there’s always tomorrow.

12.  Set professional goals.

You want accomplishments on your resume, not just finished tasks. Setting yearly professional goals will set you on track to advance your career. Meeting mentors in your industry through networking events and LinkedIn will help you realize what goals you need to prioritize.

13.  Send an SOS.

Chances are you’ve felt overwhelmed by your work load, at least once in your career. Knowing when and how to send a help signal to your manager and or co-workers is essential to preventing burnout!

14.  Conduct an interview.

Knowing how to interview someone is an important skill. Not only does it teach you how to ask the right questions, it teaches you what skillset and personality you value in yourself and your potential co-workers.

15.  Communicate!

Communication, when done well, sets you apart from other young professionals. Good communication is a strong asset, so learn it while you’re in the beginning stages of your career. For example, when emailing out project specs, I copy as many people as I think will benefit from the discussion. Looping someone in during the later stages of development could mean painful—and unnecessary—back-peddling.

16.  Handle being caught venting about co-workers.

It happens to the best of us. Your co-worker commits a major faux-pas, and you need to vent about it to another co-worker. You get caught. Knowing how to turn it into a dialogue with constructive criticism—or knowing how to avoid it all together—is very important.

17.  Not sweat the small stuff (you’re not curing cancer!)

Unless, of course, you are curing cancer. Then disregard. Ask yourself, “Will this matter a year from now?” If not, don’t sweat it. Acknowledge your mistake and learn from it.

18.  401(k) – you should at least be thinking about it

The numbers don’t lie – someone who starts saving before the age of 25 accrues more with interest than someone who starts saving at 30.Not sure how much to invest? This is a great guide.

19.  Be a team player.

No one likes a selfish co-worker. Learn this healthy habit early in your career to get ahead of those who didn’t. You can operate under the “CYA” (cover your ass) mentality, just make sure it doesn’t turn into a “TUB” (throw under the bus) one.

20.  Talk to the CEO of your company.

Get sweaty palms talking to authority figures? Nix those nerves now!

21.  Lead a meeting.

You’ll need to learn how eventually, why not get it out of the way pre-25? Have a meeting agenda and make sure you open up for discussion as much as you can, so you’re not the only one talking. Also, you can take it one step further by following up with action items and decisions made during the meeting.

22.  Ask for time off without feeling guilty.

You earn your time off, so it’s important to take it with a clean conscience. If you’re planning on having a “TREAT YO SELF” day, you could look into local brewery tours, daytime trapeze classes, or some simple retail therapy.

23.  Put together a visual report.

Putting information into a strong visual report speaks volumes more than just throwing the numbers onto a spreadsheet and clicking send. About 60 percent of people are visual learners, so it’s important to make your information pop with charts and graphs.

24.  Give your elevator pitch.

Since I work for a small company, the question I get asked the most is, “What’s Ragan?” It took some practice, but I finally got my company’s elevator pitch down a few months after joining the team. Not sure what yours is? Listen to what your co-workers say.

25.  Be a mentor.

By the time you’re three years out of college, you will have had at least one younger person ask you for various career advice. Understanding the impact you have as a mentor is powerful, and the relationships you have with mentees can be some of the most rewarding ones you’ll have in your mid-20s.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Jessica Levco

As a millennial, you’ll find that people are always giving you advice—whether you asked for it or not. I wrote down some of my favorite lines I’ve picked up Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Greatest Generation.

What have you learned from your elders?

On careers: Find something you like doing. If you don’t, it’ll be hard to wake up in the morning.

On birthdays: After you turn 25, your brain cells start dying faster than they get created. Remember that.

On drinking: After three shots of tequila, stop. Just stop.

On cooking: You’re better than Ramen Noodles.

On children: Your body won’t always look this way. Just wait ‘til you start having kids.

On traveling: If you’re going from Chicago to San Fran on the Amtrak, you better get good and loaded before you go.

On money: Don’t blow all your money on bottled water.

On exercise: Run a marathon now. It’ll just hurt more later.

On relationships: There’s always another boy around the corner.

On aging: When you get to be 95, it’s either going to be the booze or Excedrin that kills you. Maybe both.

(Image via)

 

Finding a millennial mentor—through blogging and tweeting

Recently, @RaganMafia asked our friends at #millennialmafia if they’d like to submit a guest blog post for us.

We heard back from Anna Holcombe, a Chicago blogger who is looking for a job in public relations and social media.

She wrote a post about how the Levi’s millennial-based ad campaign caught her eye. The campaign is driven by research that says millennial women prioritize their independence, instead of following the traditional routes of pursuing a career, marriage and/or motherhood.

Yet, at the same time, millennial women need mentors to help guide them through the choices they face.

When Anna finished her blog post about the campaign, she tweeted it to Gaby Dolceamore, the new blogger for the Levi’s campaign.

Guess what happened next?

Well, not only did Gaby share the post with her audience, but also introduced Anna to two millennial women mentors at Edelman in Chicago. 

How cool is that?

You can read Anna’s blog here.

PS: Would you like to blog for the Mafia? Let us know!