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The Intern Did What? Expected Internship Behavior

Interns at Work

Watching Videos at Work

Years ago I wrote about a graduate college student who had stolen art work from a museum during his internship. Everyone was pretty clear about that being theft and not expected internship behavior. Not only was that intern dismissed from his job, but he was also criminally prosecuted.

I was reminded of that incident while having a conversation with a technology manager who was asking for advice on speaking with an intern who apparently was routinely watching movies, unrelated to work, during business hours. The director found out when one of his direct reports stopped by his office to ask, “Do you know what your intern is out here doing?

When the director went to the intern’s cubicle, he was surprised to see the intern fully engrossed into watching a movie. In fact, when the director asked the intern about the status of the project he had been assigned, the intern casually minimized the screen and pulled up a chair for the director to sit. The intern proceeded to explain that he had hit a roadblock with the project and was waiting for the director to come by.

Needless to say, when the director asked the intern to not just minimize the screen, but to close it, the intern seemed a little shocked.

So this isn’t theft and the intern, therefore, won’t be prosecuted. However, interns still need to know what is appropriate expected internship behavior in the workplace. So if you are an intern, before you are tempted to jump into a movie when you hit a roadblock, here are some no-brainer internship behaviors to model:

Be proactive and seek solutions. If you are stuck, ask questions. This is a good way to make connections in the workplace.

Observe the rules of the workplace. If you don’t see anyone else watching movies at their desk, it is probably not workplace behavior.

Yes, we understand that interns today are born into a wired world and it is harder than ever to separate work from private life, but your success as an intern depends on it.

Remember that you will want more than the experience from your internship. You will want networking contacts and professional references.

If you are working in an internship, you are expected to represent yourself and your college in the most professional way possible.

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20 Common Job Search Mistakes

Job Search Mistakes

Job Search Mistakes

If you have read my blog before, you know I love lists.

They are a great way to get to the heart of the issue really fast. So after being in many conversations over the last several weeks about new grads who can’t find jobs, I wanted to just remind everyone of the 20 common job search mistakes updated for 2015.  Chances are that no one is making all of these job search mistakes, but if you have been struggling with a job search, you might want to consider these things.

  1. Not following up with recruiters or networking contacts
  2. Not creating a LinkedIn profile page
  3. Not cleaning up social media profiles
  4. Not showing connections to industry or career through membership or affiliation
  5. Not using strong writing skills through resumes, applications or emails
  6. Not showing practical application of learning and knowledge
  7. Not using a current resume customized for each opportunity
  8. Not showing any focus for preferred roles, industries etc.
  9. Not using a thank-you letter for interviews or referrals
  10. Not researching organizations before the job interview
  11. Not developing a portfolio of work or accomplishments
  12. Not doing practice interviews
  13. Not using niche job boards
  14. Not aware of the 3 C’s of Interviewing: Using excellent Communication skills to speak with Confidence about your Competencies!
  15. Not considering relocation as a viable option
  16. Not seeking current advice on what employers want
  17. Not using the career center on your college campus
  18. Not being clear about what you want or are looking for in your next opportunity
  19. Not being involved in any internships, leadership projects, study abroad or volunteer activities
  20. Not lining up awesome references

So, if any of these common job search mistakes apply to you, work daily to make improvements and keep a positive attitude.  YOUR opportunity is closer if you get your focus on, and work on these job search mistakes.

HBCU Career Centers:  Contact me at mrobin(at)thehbcucareercenter (dot) com if you want to use this presentation for a workshop.  I will be happy to customize with your campus colors and logo!

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My Internship Story: Univision Communications Inc.

Danyelle R. Carter, Spelman CollegeBy: Danyelle R. Carter, Spelman College

Corporate Communications & Public Relations Intern at Univision Communications Inc

THCC: How did you find out about the internship?

I found out about this internship opportunity through the United Negro College Fund (UNCF)

THCC: What work/project did you most enjoy in your internship?

The work I enjoyed the most was connecting with Univision’s Women Leadership Council which helps to advance women at Univision and prepare the next generation of women leaders. This employee resource group is committed to actively contributing to the professional growth and development of women at Univision with a particular focus on Mentorship, Recruitment, Development and Community Service. During this time, I created a reference sheet, PowerPoint, quotes for social media and brainstormed ways to increase engagement on social media. I also created profiles on the women by interviewing them about their leadership experiences, their sources of inspiration and what feminism means to them.

THCC: What workplace skills have you developed in your internship?

Time/task management: I often found myself in situations where multiple projects were all labeled “important.” Being able to recognize deadlines and high versus low priority tasks was extremely important.

Computer skills: Typing is a must in public relations and communications and it has to be fast because the industry is ever-changing. I often had email work, email alerts, and assignments that needed to be done and if I wasn’t checking my email I could miss an important update. It also helped to know how to navigate Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

Phone communication skills: The phone rings off the hook in PR. And because I was often interviewing and relaying messages, I had to make sure I spoke eloquently, professionally and with an awareness of when I should direct a conversation to someone more capable.

An eye for detail: Many times, whether in email or communications documents, I learned to triple check for facts for article verification. When taking messages for my supervisor or colleagues, I had to write down important details such as the name, time of call and person’s contact details, and pass this information on straight away so that details are not lost or forgotten.

THCC: Why do you think most students don’t do internships?

I believe most students do not feel secure in their skills so they don’t apply because of experiences they may have had before.

THCC: What presented the biggest challenge for you in landing your internship?

I would say location, I landed 7 internships, but 6 of them did not agree to provide housing assistance. All of the other internships I was offered were in New York or California. Univision was located about 30 minutes away from where I live in Miami.

THCC: What advice can you share with students who believe they don’t need to do internships?

You do need an internship because there are things that the classroom won’t teach you. For example, dealing with difficult colleagues, working to the beat of a fast-paced industry and what it means to be held accountable. When you’re in college, people are more compassionate about you honing your skills, but in the “real-world” it’s not that easy.

THCC: How do you believe your internship is relevant to your future career options?

In communications and public relations, a lot of writing, quick and strategic thinking is required. My internship at Univision gave me the opportunity to really practice these skills that I had only read about in classes. This was theoretical knowledge meeting practical experiences. For example, I worked ‘Premios Juventud’ (Univision’s annual youth music awards), there were times that I had to staff bloggers, make sure press received press packets, and monitor the media room. It was a high-energy time period and if I wasn’t thinking strategically, at any moment a journalist, I could have done something that was against our media policies. Another example, would be when I had to staff Cover Girl’s bloggers who came to watch Becky G, Fifth Harmony, Pitbull and Ricky Martin perform—I had to make sure they weren’t sneaking photos or video. These are just two examples of my “real-world” experience.

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We welcome students who want to share their internship stories with The HBCU Career Center. Email me at mrobin(at)thehbcucareercenter(dot)com if you want to tell us how you spent your internship semester.

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Grad School or Look for a Job

grad schoolWhat is the Best Option for a College Senior?

If you are approaching commencement or are a new alumni, you have heard this question before: So what are you going to do when you finish that bachelors degree? Don’t worry, you won’t get any pressure from us.

However, if you are trying to decide if you will go to grad school or look for a job, here are some considerations.  I should add that this question gets asked, whether the economy is good or bad.  Some people will have no choice about going to graduate school if they plan careers that require immediate additional training.

For others, the answer of whether to go to grad school or look for a job won’t be that clear cut.

Two things to know as you think about this decision:

  1. If you are not sure about a career direction, graduate school is not a place to hide out for two years. It is an expensive proposition and therefore requires a decision.
  2. Employers value work experience just as much as they might value graduate school experience. So think about where you could be two years down the road and balance real work experience vs. a graduate degree.

Grad school or Look for a Job? Think economy

When the job market is tight, grad school could be a good option while the economy recovers. Although they will gain new job skills in graduate school, college seniors should know that they will still have to work in entry level jobs after graduation. Whether the first job is right after a bachelors degree or right after a masters degree; there is no way to skip the entry-level, first job experience. That’s why building experience through internships is so important.

Grad school or Look for a Job? Think finances

If a college senior chooses to go to graduate school they must also think about adding to college loans or financing through fellowships, assistantships or scholarships. College seniors who cannot fund graduate school might research employers offering tuition reimbursement.  By the way, higher education institutions might be a good place for entry level with higher education tuition waivers.

Grad school or Look for a Job?Think future earnings/salarycollege grad data

There is not much point in amassing more college debt after graduate school if future income will not be much higher than it would be with a bachelors degree. When deciding whether to go to graduate school or look for a job consider the lower cost of state colleges and universities versus private colleges. Although a graduate school will offer higher future earnings, there won’t be much difference right after graduate school without work experience.

Grad School or Look for a Job? Think career center for advice

College career center staff help seniors and new grads with exactly this kind of personal career planning all the time.  If you are trying to decide whether to go to grad school or look for a job you should visit the career center on campus.

Career centers can help you evaluate options, explore training options for careers or even connect you with alumni who chose either option.

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The HBCU Role in Building a Diverse Workforce

diverse workforce development

diverse workforce development

A 2014 report from the Association of Governing Boards summarized some of the routine challenges being confronted by these schools. “Today, in an era of rapid transformation, HBCUs face historic challenges as well as new obstacles. Questions about sustainability, cost, quality, and mission are among many of the perennial issues that will require greater attention and creative approaches and solutions now and into the future” (AGB.gov).

The report identified pressing concerns in areas of enrollment management, academic quality, infrastructure, federal and state policies, governance and leadership and financial viability, from sources of revenue to how these schools are spending money. In a recent Forbes Magazine editorial, the all too familiar commentary continued, when the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, restated his prediction on the “demise of several hundred American colleges and universities over the next decade…No group of schools is more vulnerable than historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)”.

Despite these challenges, HBCUs soldier on to ensure student success and improve learning outcomes. There is no debate among members of the vast community of HBCU supporters that there must be change for these schools to evolve and continue to grow. The question then becomes – Grow how? Many potential solutions bring new debates. Should these schools actively pursue other potential target populations? Should they narrow academic offerings to focus on marketable, emerging niche programs? Should they refocus only on teacher education?

We believe the answers for HBCUs, as well as for any other struggling college or university, and there are many, is to make better connections between industry needs and  workforce demands with their colleges and universities. That has been the driving force behind The HBCU Career Center for eight years.  We have focused solely on the career and professional development of students, alumni and staff within the broad diverse communities supported by these colleges and universities with a goal to do three specific things:

1. Proliferate a culture of understanding of the role that the Black community, primarily through HBCUs, has played in shaping and developing the professional US workforce. #ReSkillAmerica

2. Focus on the college to workplace pipeline by championing effective, relevant, timely and appropriate career programming on campuses to support diverse students and emerging new alumni. #CollegetoWorkPipeline

3. Support the professional growth of a diverse workforce through information sharing or advice on current workplace, career, HR and industry trends, practices and success habits.  One interest here is how HBCUs themselves can become model workplaces, if they are to then produce and develop a future workforce. #WorkHabitoftheDay.

These are not new concepts. However, I argue that they have been forgotten concepts in the sense that many HBCU career centers, like centers at many other colleges and universities, have been underfunded and overlooked.  (State of HBCU Career Centers 2012-2013). No surprise here, since career centers are often vulnerable to cuts during times of financial hardships. It is actually a very parallel practice to organizations that eliminate training and development for employees during economic downturns.  Some see it as paradoxical, that at the time when it is even more necessary to build learning organizations, the tendency is to eliminate learning.  However, I digress.

While the data shows that proportionally, HBCUs, despite their challenges have produced significant numbers of African American professionals, the raw numbers are still relatively small. The Journal of Black Studies reported in 2009 that approximately 65% of Black physicians are HBCU graduates (Abelman, Delessandro 2009). Dr. Marybeth Gasman, University of Pennsylvania Professor and HBCU researcher, also states, “On account of these figures and others like them, HBCUs have been deemed responsible for creating the black middle class.” (Drewry and Doermann 2001)

While this data is inspiring, let’s look closer. For example, although 65% of Black physicians might have attended a HBCU, Black doctors are still only 6% of the pool of doctors in the US despite Blacks being 13% of the population. I argue that there is definitely capacity among HBCUs to do more.

Let’s face it – the quest for sustainability of HBCUs has existed since the very founding of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania in 1837, as the Institute for Colored Youth, when West Indian born, former slave owner, Richard Humphreys, bequeath a sum of ten thousand dollars under the care of the Society of Friends to start a school. The goal of the school was “the benevolent design of instructing descendants of the African race in school learning, in the various branches of mechanic arts and trades and in agriculture in order to prepare, fit and qualify them to be teachers.” (Annual Report, 1914).

In the 1914 report on the state of the school, then known as Cheyney Training School for Teachers, Principal Leslie Pinckney-Hill said the school had “very definite needs which must be met if the institution is going to be made a thoroughgoing professional training center for Negro teachers. The most fundamental need is at least $350 000 more for endowment. The present endowment is inadequate to current needs.” (Annual Report, 1914). In addition to expanding the endowment, Pinckney-Hill sought funding for a dormitory, dining room, kitchen and monies to purchase agriculture equipment and a building to teach young men to farm land.  He stated: “Cheyney desires to train a small group of young men each year to send into this wide and neglected field [of agriculture].”

Pinckney-Hill’s vision was that trained young men would disperse across America to teach the Black farmers how to improve productivity of their lands for their own viability and independent sustainability. “There is nowhere in the United States a really thoroughgoing training school for Negro teachers. Cheyney desires to seek this vast opportunity” (Annual Report, 1914).

Fast forward to 2015 and there is still a vast need for trained professionals, and HBCU’s, like Cheyney University, must figure out how to graduate more students who are career-ready or grad school-ready. Unlike periods in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, HBCUs, are not the only option to educate and develop the skills of future generations of Black professionals. However, we need to keep reminding ourselves of the role that these schools have played in building the diverse US workforce to date and that work must continue.

Career programming, more closely aligned to workforce needs, is one sure way that HBCU’s can assert their role in the future. These schools must revisit their missions and like Pinckney-Hill did in 1914, espouse a vision to take advantage of the opportunities of the times. This will require innovative, creative leadership, willing to take the risk to challenge the status quo. These schools must embrace the pioneering spirit of founders who charted their early course to educate the few, who could then in turn educate and represent the many to build our larger society, as a professional workforce is bound to do.

In conclusion, failing to implement broad, interdisciplinary, initiatives that disrupt the status quo on HBCU campuses will definitely ensure that many struggling schools will soon become closed schools.

As Dr. Marc Lamont-Hill said, “To be certain, the declining significance of the HBCU is a tragedy for the Black community. In addition to being a historical signpost of highbrow Black intellection, the HBCU must play a vital role in creating a self-sustaining Black community in the future. In order to do this, however, we must acknowledge these issues and work to change them.”

References

Abelman, R & Delassandro, A. (2009). The Institutional Vision of Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Journal of Black Studies, 40, 105-134

Arroyo, A. T., & Gasman, M. (September 18, 2014). An HBCU-Based Educational Approach for Black College Student Success: Toward a Framework with Implications for All Institutions. American Journal of Education, 4, 0.

Annual report of the Cheyney Training School for Teachers (Institute for Colored Youth) 1914/1915 (1913). Named changed in 1934 to: State Teachers College at Cheyney.

Posted in Diversity Recruiting, Education & Training, Employment Trends, HBCU Career Programs, HBCU's and Politics, Life After College, Professional Development | Tagged , | Comments Off on The HBCU Role in Building a Diverse Workforce

Company Research in 3 Easy Steps

company research HR professionals say it all the time and I share it all the time: Do your company research before you go into the job interview. Some research says that if you spend just 15 minutes on the company’s website before a job interview, you will learn enough to do well in the job interview. Now with all the information available via social media, why do so many recruiters complain that job seekers are still walking into job interviews without doing any company research?

Most experienced recruiters can tell the difference between job seekers who have prepared by doing company research and those who have done no company research and plan to wing it.

All of us are guilty of not preparing sometimes. Remember walking into an exam without studying? Well going to the job interview without doing company research is the same thing. However, unlike back in college, where there might be make-up exam, there are no do overs for job interviews.

Here are three basic steps to help job seekers who are failing Company Research 101. Information uncovered while doing company research should guide your answers to questions in a job interview. If a job seeker is not doing this very basic level of company research, their answers in the job interview will reflect it. It will show a lack of attention to relevant details, no interest in the company and no passion for success with the company. Why should they hire you if that is the case?

Step 1 Company Research: Read the Job Announcement Carefully.

What is the job title?
What knowledge, skills and abilities are important to the company?
What type of training and education does the job require?
What are the duties and responsibilities?

Step 2 Company Research: Learn About the Company Basics.

What are the company’s products and services?
What is the company’s organizational structure and where does this position fit?
What is the company’s market share? Who are the competitors?
Who are the people in charge?

Step 3 Company Research: Learn more about company culture.

Social media can give you good insights here. They are researching you, so you should be researching them too.

How is the company a good fit for you?

Does the company values align with yours?
Could you support and be proud of the company’s mission?
Are there training opportunities and room for growth?
Would you feel good about working for that company?

Stay connected with us on Twitter and Facebook and get more Career and Industry Awareness Tips!

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