Being at Emerson, it’s likely that you’re constantly surrounded by freshmen with more on their resumes than your parents. That’s just the way it is here, which means there can be a lot of pressure to build up your own portfolio through internships or other professional experiences. However, as we all know, starting out can get a little tricky—especially when you don’t get that call back from a position you really wanted. The truth of the matter is that sometimes things just don’t work out, but fear not. Even if you didn’t land the perfect internship position, there are still a lot of ways to stay productive this summer. Here are just a few ways that you can make the most of your four months off from school.
When May is coming, all college students can think of is the potential for adventure, fun and sleep during their summer months. No more homework or projects or whatnots.
Well, at least until your internship starts, you get hired at your summer job, and finding the time to split between your friends at home, from school, and all that family you missed out on during the school year. Suddenly, you’re sick of your own summer. When’s the right time to quit?
For each person this question differs. Obviously the money aspect plays a big role and everyone’s fiscal responsibilities vary according to need, want and current stature. So this question is very personal for many. If you need to keep working or work hours on end during the week, quitting your job early may not be the write solution for you. However, as long as friends and family, a good book or show to binge online surrounds you, you’ll get a little break until the academic calendar offers a little solace.
However, if you do not fall under that category, there are many variables you need to take into account.
Are you happy at your job?
This is a question that has many parts. Are your coworkers nice; are your bosses understanding; are you paid well enough for your task? If your answers to these questions are astounding yeses, then you may be happy to keep working. Considering how rare that is, enjoy it while it lasts. But if you’re counting down every hour from the moment you get in, your bosses haven’t listened or respected your requests, the pay isn’t worth the treatment and work you’ve completed, then maybe you shouldn’t stay there all summer. How many times have you been able to see the friends and family from home since starting work? Have you actually taken time to relax before the academic grind begins? Did you go on an adventure of sorts? Don’t loose your summer to a job.
Leave time to relax, to craft, to see friends, to explore, to do anything your young collegiate heart desires. You’ll be working when you’re back in school. If you can afford it and need it, take some time for yourself.
How much time you need is up to you. If you hate your job, need some more money, but don’t want to loose your time at home to this paid task, why not quit a little before. A week, depending on how many things you want to do. Two weeks if you’re traveling or visiting friends and family. If you need that much time for the amount of events you want to complete this summer, do it. Take a month if at all possible.
Just remember to try and follow protocol. It’s never a bad thing to have another work reference or experience on your resume for the future. So try to at least give two weeks notice, more so if possible. Bring it up when you have their full attention. Tell them how grateful you were for this opportunity, even if you hated every second of it and are imagining the fanfare when you walk out. Explain that you need to start focusing on getting back to school, means it had nothing to do with them or your feelings towards them. And give an exact date of when your last day will be. Then, there will be no confusion of when to start the trumpeters.
Maybe you’re not ready to give a dog a forever home. Many landlords don’t allow dogs in their rented apartments. Dogs are also a commitment. They need attention, exercise, playtime and meals everyday and some working families just don’t have the time and money to keep up with one. If you can’t own, but want to spend some time with furry friends, there are lots of other ways you can get involved.
Aside from donations, animal shelters rely on volunteers to run. Animal shelters are one of the most popular places to volunteer at, so you may have to wait before they can find a spot for you, but they will always need volunteers. Shelters need help socializing, walking, playing with and cleaning up after dogs. If you’d prefer some other furry friends, you can also help out with cats and other small animals, depending on what you shelter has.
“Borrow” a Dog
Chances are you know someone who has a dog. You can offer to walk their pooch while they’re out, dog sit or ask to go over and play with the pup every once in a while. Dog lovers love other dogs lovers, so they are more than likely going to have no problem letting you spend some quality time with their pet and they’ll appreciate the help.
This is especially useful for younger children who can’t have a dog in their own house. Parents can send them off with friends and family they trust and the children will love spending some quality time with a dog.
Become a Dog Walker or Dog Sitter
There are many working dog owners who need someone to walk their pooch everyday. Or many owners who go out of town and can’t take Fido either. Websites like Rover or Dogwalker can help connect you with people in your area that need a little help with their pup. This is flexible job you can do part time or full time around your schedule, so it’s a great way to make a little extra cash.
Work in a Kennel
All you would do everyday is spend time with other people’s dogs. You may be a young professional yourself trying to make it out in the world, but happen to need a part time job. Check around for kennels in your area that may need some extra help. If you happen to be studying some type of veterinary care or animal care this is also a great job to gain experience in caring for many animals at once.
Keep in mind that a job like this requires the dirty side of owning a dog as well. You’ll be required to clean up after them when they go to the bathroom and make messes, as well as the kennels every time a dog leaves.
Foster A Dog
Fostering can save a dog’s life while costing you no more than your time and love. Rescue organizations and shelters often can’t provide care for the high number of dogs that are given to them for various reasons, but they provide food, training and any medical care the dogs needs.
Fostering often saves dogs from being euthanized. This is for dog lovers who are ready for a short commitment, because a dog could be living in your home anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year, depending on how long it takes to get adopted. Once you receive a foster dog, you are not only their caretaker, but also their PR person. The shelter can only do so much, so you need to be on your game marketing your new friend.
Many foster dogs have suffered abuse and neglect in the past, so they will probably be terrified when they arrive. This is another reason why fostering is necessary: shelters need volunteers to help dogs with behavioral issues adjust to a normal, loving home.
The worst thing you can do is get a dog and then have to surrender it to a shelter. So if you’re not ready for one, try a couple things on this list first. Also, remember to research what breed of dog is best for you before taking the plunge. Once you do decide you’re ready, dogs are loving, adorable animals and owning one is worth all of the work it takes.
One of the best decisions I made as a college student was signing up with Office Team, a temp agency. I only had a couple months of experience in an office, so all of my applications were ignored, but I desperately needed a job that paid more than minimum wage otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for Emerson that year. I had just come back from a poorly budgeted (but amazing) semester abroad and I was completely broke. I did a paid internship, but as the end of the summer neared I had barely any savings and an expensive school bill.
I went in for an interview with a recruiter, who, despite my lack of experience, assured me he would begin finding me a job. The interview was almost a month before I needed a job, but he started calling me with temp opportunities within a week. Waiting worked out much better for me though, because I got a stable job at TCI America that not only gave me a lot of experience in administrative work, but also exposed me to sales and marketing.
Temp agencies sometimes get a bad rap, because you often get paid less than you would as a regular employee and there isn’t often job security. I know that I got really lucky with my placement at TCI America, but I think there are lots of benefits to working for a temp agency, especially a college student or recent graduate.
The average entry level position often requires more experience than possible for someone who just graduated college, so finding a job can take months. During that time, a lot of those job seekers can’t afford to be out of work, so they get by on minimum wage jobs. Working for an agency until you find a job is a great idea, because you would most likely be making more than minimum wage and since it’s not often a long-term job, it’s easy to leave when you find the job you’re looking for.
There is a chance that a position will end before you’re ready, which is one of the main risks of temporary work. However, the agencies always have lots of listings, because businesses like to hire through temp agencies. Temporary employees are much easier to hire, because the agency deals with interviewing, background checks, reference checks, payroll and more. I interviewed for my position at TCI America, but I don’t think that’s common in most temporary placements. If you do lose your job before you’re ready, the agency will work hard to find you another job, because they only make money from you if you have a job.
I’ve worked in a couple different stores, and while working in a store or restaurant makes you great at dealing with people and handing multiple projects at once, office experience gives you an edge in the professional world, especially if you’re missing some of the other experience the job you want requires. Overall, I had a great time at TCI America. Even though the position was a lot of hours, I got great experience and made enough money to get through my school year.
Finding a job is tough. You spend so much time tweaking your resume and cover letter so they stand out among the many other hopefuls you’re up against and you might have to apply to dozens of places before an application is noticed, and liked, by a potential employer.
After getting over the excitement of a call back, it’s time to prepare for the interview. You need to make sure you stand out more than your resume does.
Before the Interview:
- Research, Research, Research: Look over the company’s website, blog, stocks, recent work, new clients and products and anything else that might be relevant.
- Pick a Professional Outfit:It doesn’t matter if the office itself is business casual or even casual. You’ll want to dress to impress in business professional attire with extra attention to detail.
- Print Out Copies of Your Resume and Cover Letter: In case your interviewer forgets to bring a copy, you’ll save them the time of going back to get it and you’ll look prepared.
- Schedule It For the Right Time: You’ll want to pick a time that your interviewer will be most focused on you. Don’t schedule an interview on Monday or Friday, because they may be catching up or winding down. The same goes for the beginning or ending of the day or right before or after lunch. Aim for midmorning or midafternoon.
- Come Up With An Answer to “Tell Me About Yourself”: You’ll want to avoid regurgitating your cover letter. Make it a little more personal by adding a why to the what, but remember to keep it short and sweet. Weave in little details about your influences and goals.
- Prepare for Questioning: The most common questions are often about your strengths, weakness, failures, goals, managerial ability, ability to work under pressure or handle multiple things at once and disagreements with upper management or coworkers. The interviewer will often want to know why you want to work at their company, why they should hire you and why you left your last job. Depending on the position, you might also be asked specific questions about the company.
During the Interview:
- Make a Good First Impression: Be polite to everyone, because you don’t want anyone thinking you aren’t the one. You should also be professional in your demeanor and language.
- Be Confident, Not Cocky or Desperate: You don’t want to look too nervous, but you don’t want to seem cocky, because no one likes arrogance, even if you’re super qualified. Also, if you really need the job to make your next rent payment, don’t show it. You want to show them that you want the job because of what the job is, not because you’re behind on your student loan payments.
- Pay Attention: There’s likely to be a lot of information thrown at you about the company, the position and the duties. This is a great information to ask questions about later on.
- Don’t Talk Too Much: Be concise, but descriptive. Try to avoid making statements about your abilities without examples to back them up. Definitely don’t ramble too much, because you might end up saying more than you wanted. Remember to also be honest, even if it means saying you don’t have a skill.
- Ask Good Questions: Asking your own questions is so important. It shows your interviewer that you are interested in the position and company. This is also a great way to show off some of the research you did before the interview.
After the Interview:
- Send a Thank You Note: The email should be personalized and include specific information about the interview and interviewer. This shows you valued the interview enough to remember what they said and to take the time to thank the interviewer.
- Follow Up: A phone call or email following up shows your continued interest in the position, as well as your follow-through abilities. However, don’t stalk your interviewer because they’ll be less likely to hire you. After you’ve contacted them a couple of times, it’s best to move on.
Now that the semester is over, a lot of us are transitioning from collegiate life into the professional world of internships. While in the college setting casual clothing is not only acceptable but the norm, even the unpaid professional world has certain dress code expectations. From experience figuring out what to wear as an intern to working in store specializing in women’s professional clothing, I have learned a few tips on how to dress professionally even in the sweltering summer heat.
Dress code for internships can vary from extremely laid back to very rigid, so it’s important to ask about the company’s culture before starting. Technology fields and media production companies are well known for having a very relaxed dress code and casual wear is the norm in the office. Last summer, I interned at a technology startup company that had no set dress code and my supervisors would often wear very relaxed clothing. While the company’s culture was very laid back, I still dressed professionally to show that I was taking the internship seriously.
Here are some key pieces and suggestions to enhance your wardrobe an intern:
The Classic Blazer
A great blazer can make you seem like an experienced professional, even if you are still a novice intern. It can take a simple top and jeans and transform them into to a business casual outfit. You don’t have to stick to basic black either. A blazer with a pop of color can make for a chic and fun look. Personally, I know wearing a blazer almost instantly makes me feel more confident and that’s definitely a feeling you want to have on your first few days as an intern.
Cropped Dress Pants
In the summer weather, cropped dress pants are one of the best ways to stay cool and professional. Unlike shorts, crops are professional but less bulky and quite frankly less sweaty than full length pants.
Sleek Laptop Bag
Today, almost all internships will require you to bring your own laptop. At school most students tote around their laptop in a backpack, but for an internship consider upgrading to an inexpensive laptop bag.
This is a piece or accessory that makes you feel great when you are wearing it. It’s your secret weapon because it’s an instant confidence boost, which is needed when starting out in an unfamiliar environment. For me, it’s “Blackberry Sorbet” lip stain that always does the trick.
Just like there are some pieces to incorporate into your internship outfit rotation, there are also some you want to save for campus life.
While I’m all for body positivity and bashing the patriarchy with bold fashion choices, internships are not the place for challenging the societal constructs of modesty. Crop tops are great in your free time to beat the summer heat, but in the office it’s best to avoid clothing that’s too revealing period (and that includes showing your midriff.)
In most companies, graphic tees are too casual for the work culture, and even in those with a very casual work culture, they can still come across as juvenile. Already being at the bottom of the food chain in the company and probably the youngest person in the office, a graphic tee is just going to make you seem even younger. Plus, you want your boss to remember you for your hard work not for the funny saying on your graphic t-shirt.
Jeans are perfectly acceptable at companies with a casual or business casual dress code, but they should be hole free. Torn jeans just aren’t appropriate and can potentially send the message to your supervisors that you do not care.
This is especially true if you are commuting into a major city or simply doing a lot of errands on your internship. Last summer, I was leaving my internship, which was located in downtown Boston, when my flip-flop broke. Rather than taking the Orange Line with one shoe, I walked from the financial district to Faneuil Hall to replace my busted flip-flop. Even though summer can be brutally hot, from then on, I opted for more sturdy and sensible footwear.
Ultimately, as long you maintain a neat and professional appearance don’t be afraid to be a little creative and show your personality with your clothes.
Now that Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, summer is officially here. If you live on the East Coast, you may find yourself traveling to some summer hot spots such as Martha’s Vineyard, Newport or Atlantic City. While staying there for a week or two in the summer may be fun, living in these places is a whole different experience.
According to a government report on resorts in British Columbia, a resort town can be defined as “an area where tourism or vacationing is the primary component of the local culture and economy.” During the “on” season, resort towns are the best places to live and make a living. During the “off” season, they can be the worst.
For two years now, I’ve been fortunate enough to call myself a “seasonal resident” of Cape Cod. Cape Cod isn’t a resort town per say, but rather an entire resort peninsula. It is a 65 mile tourist haven with 77 beaches and hundreds of local businesses whose population in the summer surges from the permanent 200,000 to the seasonal 500,000.
The town I stay in during the summer can be classified as a resort town. Streets aren’t lined with a variety of local businesses but can instead be summed up in two industries: hospitality and food. Because of this, resort towns are a hotbed of job activity. I remember frantically applying for any job I could find last year in late June, and getting about ten interviews in a week.
“Lazy summer days” is a term that does not apply here. On the Cape, there is always something to do; whether it’s mini-golfing, sailing, shopping, dining or just beaching it, you get the sense that everyone is go-go-going all the time. The only time anything stops is when it rains; rainy days aren’t just considered a pity here, but can be called an economic loss for many businesses.
Summer holidays that usually bring people together, such as the Fourth of July, are the worst days of the working year for resort towns. If you’ve ever wondered what a highway would look like if it were transformed to a parking lot, try driving down Route 28 during any time of the day on July 4th. The few local grocery stores’ stock of hot dogs and hamburgers are wiped out at least three days prior to the holiday. This is true for all major summer resort towns. If you’ve ever wondered how nice would it be to spend the Fourth in [insert summer resort town destination here.] It’s not. If you’ve ever wondered about trying this, don’t worry, you’re actually saving yourself a lot of trouble by not going.
You will know a Cape Cod local if you ever meet one. They are extremely proud of the Cape, but also extremely over it. If you mention an attraction, they have most definitely been there and still don’t get what the hype is. And yes, despite it being their main source of income, they absolutely despise tourists. Yet, no one loves the Cape like the locals do. They stay here, year in and year out, through snow, hurricanes, slow economic times and boredom.
While tourists are the very reason Cape Cod survives in the summer, they are also the bane of its existence. They are the cause of ruin for everything: the clogged roads, the eroding dunes, the strewn litter everywhere. Even if they’re not, they are. Working in the restaurant industry, I can tell you some of the worst encounters I’ve had have been with tourists using the mentality that you can treat people terribly because you’ll never see them again.
(While we’re on that note: Why do people think it’s acceptable to be rude to people just because they know they’ll never see them again? First off, you don’t know that for certain, secondly it’s never ok to be rude.)
But there are benefits to living here.
I’ve known people who make their year’s worth of living in four months, leaving them three seasons to spend recuperating. The job opportunities created by tourism allow a variety of people to make money: international citizens, locals and college students like me. And, most importantly, when I need to sweat and commiserate after my summer job, I don’t do it at my house: I can do it at the beach down my street.
It was a typical day at work when my manager yelled at me from the fitting room to go get her a pair of scissors. Naively, I assumed I was fetching them in order to cut off tags. Instead, I found a woman stuck in a dress that was about 4 sizes too small, with the only options being to either leave her in the dress or cut it off.
You never expect your shift to include running to get your boss a pair of scissors to cut a women out of a dress, or that someone will emerge from a fitting room and hand you a live tick that they picked off of their daughter. I have worked in both children’s retail and in a high-end women’s chain boutique, and both have presented a lot of challenges. But I wouldn’t change either experience, because I feel they have given me a unique set of skills that only fellow retail workers understand.
While most college students see their retail job as temporary gig to earn money for school and spending, it can actually be a great skill-building job. I’m not just talking about the basic skills you’ll acquire such as working the register, conducting inventory, or stocking; it is also given that you’ll gain some valuable life skills that can be carried over to any job.
Here are some valuable skills that come from working retail:
Retail is always a fast-paced environment. Particularly in higher-end retail, I often find myself juggling three to four clients at once, each of them expecting the same individual level of undivided attention from me. In addition to building sales and working the register, I’m expected to be watching for potential theft and making sure the store is presentable. Basically, retail workers always have to be attentive and alert.
Depending on the store you work at, you may be tempted to buy its products. After hours of hearing the same sales pitch over and over, you may find that it is slowly getting inside your head and you have the sudden desire for that $250 blue leather jacket. However, when you receive your first paycheck, reality sets in and you learn to exercise self-control. And if you work in a mall and manage to not by a jumbo pretzel every shift, you have truly mastered the art of self-control and should write a self-help book.
With inventory constantly changing and customers messing up the floor set, you’re constantly reorganizing the store. Also, if taking of bunch of poorly-packed shipment boxes and turning them into a polished floor set isn’t organization, I don’t what is.
A.K.A. talking to people without sounding awkward, interpersonal communication is a skill that I find most people lack today. Working in retail, you end up talking to people for the majority of the day. The mall that I work at has a diverse clientele, including many non-English speakers. As someone who is only fluent in English with a very elementary understanding of Spanish, often I find that my communication skills are tested when I assist clients and we both speak a different language. But it is possible to work around language barriers using context clues, physical cues, and other communication basics.
I think a lot of people assume that working retail is mindless, but I have found that each shift involves a lot of problem solving. I have to anticipate what the customer needs and wants before they even ask. Additionally, finding the perfect fitting pair of jeans for a client involves a process of deductive reasoning that I have never seen inside of a college classroom.
Being Comfortable in Uncomfortable Situations:
Shopping can be a very emotional outlet for a lot of people. On more than one occasion, a customer in the fitting room broke down crying or unleashed a fit of rage. Unlike in your personal life when you can simply remove yourself from a situation where someone is making you uncomfortable, you don’t have the option to leave while working — you just have to deal with it. There are definitely days when I feel more like a therapist or life coach than a sales associate, but it helps keep my shift from being mundane.
People will always be rude, and working with customers teaches you how to handle that. I have had a customer throw a hanger at me, and I didn’t even flinch; I just caught it and hung it back on the rack. Some would say that it’s because I’m jaded, but I would say it’s a typical day of work, exercising the ability to stay calm cool and collected.
I have learned that despite that saying we all know, the customer is not always right, and often I have to turn down customer requests. For example, people try to use expired coupons or RetailMeNot codes and try other sneaky ways to get a discount. But no matter how tenacious they are, I still have to draw the line and tell them I cannot take their expired coupons or their overdue returns. Working in retail has given me more confidence in saying “no” and upholding the companies’ policies.
Eventually you’ll learn to say “I work retail” with pride. The fact is, you should be proud. You deal with people all day, and most of them are either angry or frustrated about something and take it out on you because the store happens to be out of a size medium.
I have worked in retail for about three years now, and whenever I go into a job interview, it’s the first point I mention when talking about previous experience. Most of the time interviewers are interested to hear about what you learned working retail, and I never have a shortage of what to tell them. It has provided me with answers for questions like, “Describe a work situation where you stayed calm under pressure,” or “Tell as about a time you had to work with co-workers as a team.”
As an added bonus, you’ll have a dozen or so ridiculous work stories to share with friends or acquaintances. But if there is one thing I have learned working in customer service, it is taking absurd situations as they come at me.