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Posts Tagged ‘networking’

  1. How to make the most of your internship

    March 14, 2014 by Ian Perry

    My goal for this post is simple: help you understand how to get the most out of your summer internship. I realize the timing is a little off, since it’s mid-March, and I know summer seems way off. However, it’s just around the corner, and I’m sure internships are on many students’ minds. Using examples from my internship last summer, I hope that I’ll be able to help give some useful tips/advice on how to have a successful internship experience.

    Last summer, I worked as a mobile software engineering intern at Nike in Beaverton, Oregon. I worked in Digital Sport, which is within the Consumer Digital Technology department. More specifically, I worked on the Nike+ Running app for the iPhone. It was an unbelievable and amazing experience, and I will be returning full time after graduation. There were several keys to my success as an intern, some of which will probably sound familiar, and some of which will hopefully be new to you.

    BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

    Relationship building, also known as networking, is very important. You may only work with a handful of people throughout the summer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t meet more. I worked on a small team at Nike’s headquarters, where thousands of people work. My team was amazing, but just a small fraction of the people who work at Nike. One of the first things I did was use LinkedIn to find every Cornell alumnus who works at Nike, and reach out to them via email. In turn, they told me more people that I should reach out to, who told me even more people I should meet. These meetings don’t have to be long, just ask to get coffee for 30 minutes, or even just 15 if they’re really busy. People like meeting interns, and it’s rare that someone will say no to your request.

    During these informational meetings, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t be trying to “get anything” out of these people. Ask them about what they do, how they like their job, what fun things you should do in the area, and just be friendly! After you meet with them, be sure to send a follow-up email thanking them for taking the time. I would also recommend reaching out again later in the summer, and once you’re back at school to let them know what you’re up to.

    USE THE INTERN CARD

    The “intern card,” is an important part of being an intern. However, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse for poor work performance. Instead, it should be used to meet as many people as you can, ask questions, and learn. It’s kind of like being a freshman in college, as it gives you an excuse to talk to people who you don’t know. All you have to say is, “Hi, I’m an intern, and I was wondering…” No questions asked, most people are going to introduce themselves and help you get where you’re trying to go. It’s also great during meetings when people are dropping company-specific acronyms that sound like gibberish to you. All you have to say is, “Could you explain what that means, I’m still getting used to all of the terms.” Full-time employees may be expected to know such terms, but as an intern, you’re probably not (at least at the beginning of the summer.) The whole point of what I’m calling the “intern card,” is to take advantage of being an intern, not to use being an intern as an excuse, but as a way to learn as much as possible.

    NEVER SAY NO

    As an intern, you should take on all the work that you can in order to get more experience and learn as much as possible. Even though I had one or two main projects I was working on, I took on more work at times, in order to help out and learn things with which I was unfamiliar. One of the features I worked on was the Coach feature in the Nike+ Running app, but my manager also let me come up with my own feature. I took it from idea to prototype throughout the summer, and had the opportunity to present it to leadership in Consumer Digital Technology. This was a really amazing experience, and a lot of it was due to my manager being awesome and letting me do it. However, I also did not hesitate for a second when he told me about the idea of coming up with my own feature. I knew it would be one of many projects, but there was absolutely no way I was going to turn down that opportunity.

    If you ever find yourself with no work to do, then ask people if they need help with anything. Take the initiative, and also don’t be afraid to be creative. Share your opinions in meetings, and speak your mind. You’re there for a reason, and it’s important to prove your worth.

    WORK HARD, PLAY HARD

    The culture at Nike fits this next tip very well: work hard, play hard. Everyone not only works extremely hard, but they also know how to have fun. As an intern, working hard should be your number one priority, but it’s almost just as important to be well-rounded and have fun. One thing I did was join the intern kickball team. This was a great way to bond with my fellow interns, as well as be active and have fun. Our team ended up getting second place, and we’ll be back with a vengeance next year!

    kickball team

    Intern kickball team

    Another way to have fun is to go to every event that sounds interesting. Throughout the summer, I was able to attend some really cool events, the highlights of which included seeing many professional athletes. If you’re planning on going to an event, you should also be sure to invite your coworkers. It’s a great way to spend some time with them while not working.

    As an intern, you’ll also probably have the option to go to intern only events. Definitely go to as many of these events as possible. They are a great way to get to know your fellow interns better, as well as have fun. I was able to hear leaders within Nike speak at some of these events, which was a very unique and rare opportunity. In addition, I also got to attend a river rafting trip, which was tons of fun.

    This leads to my next point about having fun, which is that you should never be doing nothing on the weekends during your summer as an intern. Ask your coworkers what types of things you should do on the weekend, and explore every inch of wherever the company you’re working for is located. Last summer was my first time in Oregon, and I spent lots of time with other interns exploring the area. Some highlights were going to the coast, hiking near Mt. Hood, and exploring downtown Portland.

    Mt. Hood

    Hiking the Mirror Lake Trailhead. Mt. Hood in the distance

    BE HAPPY

    This one’s short, but don’t forget to be happy at all times throughout the summer. I loved what I was working on, and I was always excited to be in the office. If you’re not happy about going to work each day, that might be a good indication that you’re not in the right job. That’s okay though, because you’re an intern and you have plenty of time to decide what job you want to have.

    MAKE FRIENDS

    Last, but certainly not least, make friends with the other interns. They’re in the same position as you. Yes, this is another part of the whole relationship building thing, but these are the relationships that are likely going to last a lifetime. I had a core group of about 15-20 interns that I got to know pretty well, and we still keep in touch on a daily basis. They’re an amazing group of talented people, and a big reason for why my internship experience at Nike was as amazing as it was.

    Feel free to leave any questions about internships in the comments section. I’d also love to hear any other tips that people have about how to get the most out of an internship.


  2. Cornell Career Services Keeping Up With the Times

    February 26, 2013 by Ian Perry

    Yesterday, Cornell’s Arts & Sciences Career Services department held its second LinkedIn workshop in the past three and a half months. The turnout was great and students seemed to get a decent amount out of it. I think workshops like this show that Cornell’s Career Services department is doing a good job of keeping up with the times. While emphasis is often put on having the “perfect” resume, or practicing for an interview, tools which make those things easier, like LinkedIn, are often overlooked. It’s amazing to me how many students are not on LinkedIn (and part of the reason why I decided to start the Cornell Social Media Club). It’s not that students don’t understand the importance of networking, it’s just that they aren’t aware of how to use all of the tools at their disposal. This is why it’s necessary to have sessions purely devoted to creating, maintaining, and successfully utilizing a LinkedIn profile.

    From Paper to Digital

    Traditionally, stress has been put on the paper resume, but in today’s world, almost everything is digital. Whether you like it or not, you have some sort of online presence. This can be through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., but people can find information about you online if they want to. And guess who wants to? The company that you want to work for. Giving people one place where they can go to find your portfolio, just makes their job easier. One of the best ways to do this is probably through a personal website, but if you don’t have the resources or time to put together a site, a LinkedIn profile is a great alternative. It’s one place where you can go beyond the restrictions of a paper resume. You can summarize your career, life, and/or personal goals, and give a much more detailed explanation of what you’ve done in your professional career. It’s also a great place to link to other sites where you maintain a presence (Twitter, a blog, etc.).

    Showing Your Human Side

    Having an online presence to show to potential employers or just people you want to connect with is a great way to show your human side. This is something that can be extremely difficult to do through a paper resume. It has been done in some very creative ways though. The Internet makes it much easier to show multiple sides of who you are. You can show your professional experiences through text on your LinkedIn profile, but then also link to a blog, Twitter, YouTube channel, Shelby roll, etc. It’s a great way to say, “Yes, I have lots of experience and I work hard, but I also like to have fun and do other things besides work,” which can be tough to say on paper. There are also less restrictions in terms of length (especially if you generally stick to a one page resume). It’s also really easy to show off your work. Did you have a blog post featured on a prominent news site, do you write for the school paper, did you make an awesome web app? These are all things that are super easy to link to from a LinkedIn profile. Showing what you’ve done is much more impressive than describing it, and your projects often show who you are and what your interests are. Make sure you’re showing your human side.

    Building and Maintaining Connections

    “People love helping students.” You’ve probably heard this before, and from my experience, it’s definitely true. People are often more than willing to help students. They’re even more willing if they’re an alumnus of the school that you’re going to. They’ve been in your shoes and understand what you’re going through. In my opinion, LinkedIn is one of the best ways to connect with alumni, besides face-to-face interaction. The ability to join groups and search by company, industry, school, and keyword makes it extremely easy to meet people who are doing what you think you might want to do with your life. While I don’t suggest connecting on LinkedIn with people you don’t know (especially not with the generic LinkedIn connection request message), there are many other ways to connect with alumni. For example, try looking them up in your school’s database of contacts and send them an email. LinkedIn amplifies the power of a school’s network, and can lead to great opportunities. Remember though, ask for advice, not jobs.

    I could go on and on about LinkedIn and maintaining your online web presence/portfolio. I think it’s extremely important, and I’m glad that Cornell Career Services thinks so too. Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips for students using LinkedIn.