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How can you set yourself apart from other interns?

I hope to land a federal job after college. They offer limited intern positions, and permanent jobs are only offered to a couple of people. How can I prove I would be the best person for the job? #jobs #internship #competitive

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Subject: Career question for you

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Ken’s Answer

A great start on this quest is to get to know yourself to see which career would be most suitable for you and then get to know people working in that field to get their advice and suggestions and start forming a network that will help you advance in your education/career journey. Then you can take steps to make yourself stand out.


Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .

Ken recommends the following next steps:

The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
Steps towards making yourself stand out from the crowd: Develop your elevator pitch https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-messages-you-need-to-know-and-nail-to-pitch-yourself Upgrade your elevator pitch https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-smart-ways-to-upgrade-your-elevator-pitch How do I stand out https://www.themuse.com/advice/stand-out-against-tough-job-search-competition?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20180212_full_post_12330&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20180212_full_post_12330&bsft_eid=d4289e9d-36d9-400b-acd1-4ad8fc875779&bsft_clkid=fcecef0e-d417-4d40-abd8-c7fcff8d17d5&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=e6618061-6992-4904-8421-2f69b448443f
Thank you comment icon Let me share an interesting story about internships: During my daughter's senior year in high school, the highlight of the year (and of the whole high school experience) was to be a several month long internship program. Everyone signed up and indicated the type of internship that they wanted - all except for one girl. This girl wanted to become a doctor and wanted her internship to be with the local EMS unit at the local fire station. So, she talked to the head of the EMS unit and got his approval and made arrangements with the school to create her own internship. Of all of the students about which I heard, she was the one who benefited the most by her internships. If there is an internship program, it had to be started by someone, possibly by you. Ken Simmons
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Emma’s Answer

Hi Anna! My best advice would be to focus on what you can control and try not to compare yourself with all other applicants and interns. This can be hard but at the end of the day you can only control what you bring to the table. A few things I would make sure to focus on when applying to internships and while completing an internship. First, make sure you prepare and practice for the interview. Be confident and know what you have to offer, your skills, achievements, and previous work experience. Also, make sure you understand the role and what you will have to be doing, make sure it is a right fit for you! Lastly, do not be afraid to ask questions!! Most companies want somebody who is willing and capable of learning, they do not expect you to know everything.
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Tina’s Answer

I think when setting yourself apart from other interns it is important to stay true to yourself and actively participate with whatever group you are in. Most of the time, coaches/mentors are looking for interns who are genuine to who they are but they also want someone who is going to put in the work. What I have found to set myself apart is to ask questions, even if you think they are stupid because this is going to show you are trying to understand the concepts. Also, readily check in with your supervisors to get some feedback on your performance to see what you re doing well in and where you could improve.
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Jason’s Answer

During an internship you should take every opportunity to make as many new professional relationships/connections as possible. Obviously the right internship should give you experience to determine if the career path is right for you and develop your skills in a particular field, however, often times it is who you know, which can open doors.
• Say hello when you start work and goodbye at the end of the day. Don't just show up, do the work and leave. Strike up a conversation. Ask people what they do. People love to talk about what they do.
• Don't be afraid to ask questions, no one expects an intern to know everything. Just don't ask the same one over and over. Write down the answer. If you need to ask the same question again, try to ask it in a more intelligent way.
• Keep a notepad with you and keep track of answers and action items you were given. Stay organized and try and anticipate what your boss/coworkers will need before they need it.
• Communication is key. Speak loud and clear. Less is more; if you are presenting something keep the materials to visuals and talking points so the focus is on you and you can adjust the content to the flow of conversation. Do not read presentations to someone who can read the presentation.
• Understand the industry you are in and what changes are affecting it. Who is your customer and what do they want. Who is your competitor and what are they offering. How does your company make money. Then form an opinion and talk to people about it. Even if they have a different one you will learn something and they might learn something from you.
When it comes time to interview for a full time position you will either be remembered because you have a relationship with the hiring manager, or you will have references that can vouch for your work ethic and cultural fit, in addition to your skills.
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Amanda’s Answer

Hi Anna!

Something I've done in my internships that has always set me apart and garnered positive feedback is giving your boss 'weekly updates' so that they know what you are working on and can see how you are making a difference in the company. The way I go through doing weekly updates is the following:

-in your notes or a word document, at the end of each day write a short summary of what you did that day (ie. who you talked to, what you worked on, and what you learned)
-at the end of the week, summarize your week by going through your daily summaries to make a concise, bulleted list of your wins for the week, next steps, and any assistance you need in the following week from your manager, and email this list to your manager by the end of the day friday.

This makes you appear organized, and allows your boss to have something to look back on in any performance reviews as concrete evidence that you've done a good job. I've found that my managers are always impressed when you take the initiative to do something like this. Best of luck to you!
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