Interns can be interesting, especially to employers. Take, for instance, “gum girl,” a college student vying for a coveted internship who showed up to the interview aggressively chewing blue bubble gum. Then, there was the already-hired intern who ordered a four-course feast that necessitated take-home containers during what was intended to be a casual work lunch outing. Don’t even ask about the individual who showed up one day wearing pajamas.
Entering the workforce for the first time can be intimidating and confusing. Professional reputations can hinge on appearance as much as technical savvy. That’s why knowing some hiring and on-the-job basics is essential for success.
University of Findlay students recently learned such valuable tips from some of the pro’s during “How to Stand Out in Your Internship/Job,” a panel discussion featuring four local business leaders that offered advice relevant to all workers.
Moderated by College of Business Interim Dean Damon Osborne, participants included Eric Anderson, the principal and co-founder of AR Marketing; Anne Roman, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company vice president of communication; Jamie De La Cruz, director of organizational capability for Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC); and Nicole Busey, Esq., ’99, tax director for indirect compliance and planning at MPC.
Professionalism topics addressed:
Going the Distance
Roman – “Do more than you’re asked, and do it well. Many just do what they’re asked to do and that’s it.”
Anderson – “If you gather more information, if you complete something sooner than anticipated, if you ask really intelligent questions, then you’re starting to move yourself up the scale.”
De La Cruz – “Everything we do at Marathon, we do as a team. You can have all the academic and technical chops, but if you don’t collaborate, you’re not going to stay here. You can’t operate on an island. Tell me how good you can make that team.”
Busey – “If you’re invited to lunch with a coworker or boss, be very perceptive of what everyone else is ordering. What is their approach?”
Roman – “It’s amazing how many people we remember for their gaffes. For one intern, we tried to extend a job offer. He didn’t answer the call. We emailed him, and he didn’t respond. We texted him, no response. We found out later he had another job. He thought he didn’t need us, but you never know (down the road). The rudeness of not answering at all was just amazing.”
De La Cruz – “I had an intern who was having to travel using my credit card. A few months later, I found out he had stayed in the presidential suite with a whirlpool and all the amenities. Either don’t do that, or make sure it’s a really good night.”
Busey – “When you reach out to someone (via email), have an ask in there. If you don’t get a response, take it to the next level with a text, or call, and then an in-person visit.”
Roman – “Writing is a skill that seems to have gone by the wayside. I see multiple errors in spelling and grammar. Recently, we had three students do PowerPoint presentations that had huge mistakes in them. Proofread before you turn things in. If you’re doing a presentation, have someone else look at it beforehand.
Anderson – “Be crisp. Be concise. Don’t assume that just because you wrote it and sent it that someone is going to read it. And don’t give yourself a pass for anything. If you’re not good at speaking in front of groups, get up in front of people you know and practice.”
De La Cruz – “With voicemail, make it short and sweet. How you communicate project whether you have confidence or not in your abilities. If you come across as whiney or wishy-washy… you’re self-selecting yourself out of the process.”
Roman – “Be willing to step out of your comfort zone just a little bit and volunteer or lead a group. Take small appropriate risks and you’ll be noticed.
Busey – “I love when people say, ‘I’ve finished this. Is there anything else I can do?’ We don’t ask interns to do anything we wouldn’t do ourselves.”
Anderson – “Take advantage of every opportunity. Don’t think you’re above anything. Get to know others’ communication style. Try to go to lunch with them or have coffee.
Osborn – “I started my career as a music teacher. Then I changed careers in my late 20s and again in my late 30s. Your career path may change and vary over time. Don’t get stuck on the idea that the path you’re on today is the one you have to stay on for the rest of your life.”
Research the Business
Anderson – “Make sure you understand the culture. Some places are more structured than others. We hire on culture before we hire on talent.”
Busey – “We look for whether you’ll actually fit in with us. During three hours of interviewing, we are hopefully seeing the true you and personality coming out. If you are not a good fit, we won’t care if you have a four-point grade average. And, you should be happy in your appointment as well.”
Damon – “It is a two-way interview. We all want a job, but you don’t want to take a position just to take a position. Make sure you’re joining an organization that meets your needs.”
De La Cruz – “This is a bilateral relationship. We recruit heavily from UF. This is an awesome moment in your life. You’re in the driver’s seat. You have options. That should empower you.”
Roman – “Tell the truth. No one appreciates being surprised by dishonest information. Don’t try to blame someone else. I’ve seen that a lot. Apologize if you’ve made an error.”
Anderson – “You have your own personal brand. If there’s a lack of integrity, if trust is broken, you can’t get past that. We expect mistakes to happen. We make mistakes ourselves. We know this is your first big job.”