Cindy Brugge

A Public Relations Student

Category: Campus Pages Column

Moving On Without Walking Out

Believe it or not, spring semester is coming to a close and those internships will be ending before you know it. For some poor unfortunate souls, who dread their internship daily, leaving this experience behind may not be the worst news. Others may be hoping that their internship could result in a summer job offer. Either way, it’s always best to end an internship gracefully, by following a few simple steps.

  1. Do your research: As college students in a failing economy, sitting still and hoping for the best is not enough in the job market. Even if you have the perfect job, you must always be looking for something better; always be searching for the next job and creating a back-up plan. So, start digging into different internship options that will expand your knowledge base and fill out your resume. You can’t stay where you are just because it is fun. You have to do what’s best for your career.
  2. Decide what you want: After you’ve looked at all the other options and scribbled a few pro-con lists, make some choices. If the connections you’ve made at your current internship could be useful in the future, then staying with your present employment might be best. However, are there other options? If so, pick your first, second and third choice and act accordingly.
  3. Meet with the Big Guy: You can’t expect your boss to be a mind reader, so let him/her know how you feel. One month from the end of your internship, ask for a performance evaluation meeting with your supervisor. Give your boss the opportunity to tell you what you did well and what you should work on. Take notes because he/she could help you grow in the next step of your career. Towards the end of your meeting, tell your boss your plans. You can either ask if there might be an opening for you in the future at that company or take the other route and gracefully bow out. Remember to show gratitude for the opportunity and explain your choice to pursue other employment.
  4. Move forward: Before you take your next step, make sure to arrange a few details with your current internship. First, make a list of all of your duties and projects that you completed. It will come in handy when you’re trying to write a cover letter and resume later. Second, ask for a reference letter from your boss. If you ask for it while your hard work is fresh on their mind, it will be much more personal and detailed then if they are trying to think back years from now. Third, update your LinkedIn page, with your job, duties and gained proficiencies.

Always remember that these final interactions with your co-workers and boss will be the last thing they remember of you. Don’t leave a bad taste in their mouth, by leaving with condescension or bad attitude. Always leave that door open because you might need it to get into another room later.

Best of Luck,

Cindy | Former Bookkeeper Girl Intern

 

This is a piece from my monthly column in the Campus Pages, called Intern-al Affairs.

See the published copy by clicking here.

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Stash the Phone or Crash the Meeting: The Proper Use of Technical Gadgets in the Workplace

While a teacher’s back is turned, students pull out their cell phones under their desk to play the latest game. Mom is talking, but the teenager checks a text message from a friend and replies quickly. The boss yammers on in a meeting and a harmless facebook status update doesn’t seem like that big of a deal… Let’s be honest. We’ve all been there. However, these actions are creating a big problem for us after we leave school.

In an age where technology has an ever-increasing presence on our life, many students enter the workplace without any understanding of proper technology etiquette. Young employees may know that it’s not exactly appropriate, but it doesn’t keep them from acting on the impulse to instantly gratify their technological addiction. But where do we draw the line?

I was raised in a Baptist church. If a teenager whipped out a cell phone during service for any reason, exasperated sighs and staring eyes would shame the phone back into the owner’s pocket. However, a few years back I started attending a very enthusiastic church and I was flabbergasted one Sunday to see the assistant pastor on his phone when the senior pastor was speaking.

Later when I questioned him, he said that he didn’t see any problem with using his cell phone to his benefit to take notes, quickly respond to emergencies via text message and tweet quotes from the sermon. Obviously, I was enthralled and after two years working for that church, my iPhone became my best friend. Work-related phone use was acceptable in my work environment. However, that is not normally the case.

Most employers require that employees stash the phones from 9 to 5 and consider smartphones to be a source of interruption from work.

“Employees are required as an unspoken courtesy to put their phones down, when their superior or peers are talking,” said Paul Echols, owner of Square 205. “I prefer pencil and paper to laptops and smartphones because of the lowered possibility for distraction.”

A business owner in his late 20’s, Echols runs a forward-thinking graphic design company. His office is filled with burly young men and decorated with chalkboard walls and state of the art technology, but even he can agree that cell phones are a big  no-no in the office.

So where does that leave us? Ultimately, most employers agree that a quick status update or text to a friend isn’t a big deal when seated at your desk, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your productivity. However if you’re in a meeting, regardless of the size, put your phone away! Give your full attention to the speaker. Most agree that this simple respect that goes a long way.

Best of Luck,

Cindy | Former Intern & Current Employee at Bookkeeper Girl

 

This is a piece from my monthly column in the Campus Pages, called Intern-al Affairs.

See the published copy by clicking here.

Dress to Impress the Boss: Wearing an Appropriate Outfit for the First Day

So, you’ve found an internship for spring. With your first day looming ahead, how do you plan to make a strong first impression?

A developed wardrobe can separate a college student intern from an asset to the company who demands a place as a future employee. Create a power look with these 5 steps to success:

It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

  • Wear nice clothing: slacks, simple dresses, collared shirts.
  • Avoid jeans, T-Shirts, sundresses, and tennis shoes.
  • If you find after a few days that everyone in your office dresses a little more casual than you, then you can tone it down accordingly.

Be classy.

  • Clothing should be properly laundered and pressed. (You would be surprised how often people don’t do this!)
  • Don’t be a skank. Nobody wants to see your low cut tops and miniskirts in the office. It isn’t cute, and it’s definitely not appropriate for an intern to prance around the office in scandalous attire. You want people to think “tasteful” not “Hello, Miss Tastey!”

Accessories can make or break your outfit.

  • Accessories are an area where you can afford to take a few small risks to show your personality. A colorful neon belt can add a little flare without overpowering your outfit and chic shoes might boost your outfit if chosen correctly.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I cannot stress this enough. Many interns run errands and do random chores that keep them on their feet all day long. Those heels may be cute, but you will regret that choice by the end of the day.
  • Men forget that nice shoes, a cool belt and some awesome sunglasses can take them up a notch immediately. Guys, you look so much hotter, when you learn how to properly accessorize your outfit.

Go Shopping!

  • With these tips in mind, it might be a good idea to shop for a few basics.
  • I’d recommend these staples.
    • Ladies: A pair of slacks, a simple black dress (that doesn’t show cleavage and falls at least to just above the knee), a classic white collared shirt and a cardigan.
    • Men: A pair of khakis, a pair of black/navy slacks, an assortment of collared shirts and ties. Please spend a little money on some nice versatile accessories. You need a nice belt and shoes to match brown and black hues.
    • Don’t go overboard. I wouldn’t go on a shopping spree until you get an idea of what your company’s overall style and dress code looks like. Buy a couple of standard pieces, and re-evaluate your wardrobe after the first week.

After you have picked an outfit, pack a bag.

  • All interns should bring a pen and small notepad for their first day. You WILL have a million questions and will learn numerous details throughout the day. It will seem overwhelming. My best advice is to constantly take notes. Write your questions down in one place, and when you get a chance, ask someone. I usually ask mine via email. It’s an effective way to get the answer in writing so that you can see it later. A pen and notepad will help you survive the first week.
  • If needed, bring your laptop in a work appropriate case.
  • Make sure to bring any paperwork needed for you first day, including your driver’s license and social security card or a valid passport.

If you can follow these few tips, you are sure to wow your boss on your first day. Just remember that you already got the job. They’ve already seen something worthwhile in your personality and background. Wardrobe is made to help your talent stand out. Don’t let fashion malfunctions distract your co-workers from what you have to offer. Pick the right outfit to make YOU stand out!

 

This is a piece from my monthly column in the Campus Pages, called Intern-al Affairs.

The Internship of Your Dreams: How to Find an Internship that isn’t a Total Nightmare

I assume that most students are like me, going to school to get a job. However, today it’s not enough to get a degree. Having experience to go with it can make all the difference. So how do you find an internship that will look good on a resume, but also not cost you your dignity while boring you into a coma.

Google like a Customer not a Potential Intern

If you want to find a wedding planning internship, go to websites that recommend wedding planners to potential brides. Scour the town and look for the best of the best in your specific field.

Talk to EVERYONE

Talk to teachers, advisors, grad students, upperclassmen in your area of study, family members, and friends. Ask everyone if there is anyone else you should talk to. Don’t leave any stone unturned.

Use University resources.

Visit your Career Center and its website. (UNT has an online program that allows local business to post internship and job openings for students.

Denton is a Mecca of Local Business

Don’t overlook what’s nearby. Denton has many successful small businesses. While smaller companies tend to have less developed programs, you can often have a real impact on the company, which looks great on a resume. To start your search, go to the Denton Chamber of Commerce website and look through the online Member Directory.

Stay away from programs that do the work for you.

Internships.com, College.Monster.com and University of Dreams and the like can waste a lot of your time and money. Doing the work yourself will be worth it when you find the right internship.

After you’ve found 5-10 solid leads, prepare resumes and cover letters. Don’t sell yourself short. Make sure you send only the best. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. Even if you can’t find an internship for spring, continue to follow up and maybe it will turn into an opportunity for the summer or next fall.

Best of Luck in Your Internship Search

Cindy Brugge – delightfully satisfied Bookkeeper Girl intern

 

This is a piece from my monthly column in the Campus Pages, called Intern-al Affairs.

Meet Cindy: Intern, Blogger and Advice Columnist

On August 1st, I decided to completely change my course of direction and move to Denton, TX to attend UNT. This idea made little sense at the time because I had not attended orientation, found an apartment or even began searching for a job to pay for a new life in a new city. Two months later, I’m a full time student, living on Fry Street and working in the coolest PR job in the city. I have seen over the past weeks how God has led me to the perfect place in his perfect timing. I have found a city I love, a path to my career goals and the most unexpectedly wonderful professional relationships, in the form of an internship at Bookkeeper Girl.

Looking back, I’m not sure what encouraged me to apply for a position at a bookkeeping company.  In fact, bookkeeping (or anything math related, for that matter) sounds like the most terrifying area of business to get involved in.  As a Journalism major, I hoped to find a job relating to public relations, which is my intended career field. So I began searching for job opportunities on the Eagle Network in MyUNT. When I found an internship, entitled “Communications Intern,” I decided that it couldn’t hurt to apply. (Lesson #1: Always apply for everything! You never know what little application could turn into a job or a contact for the future.)

A month went by without finding a decent job prospect that fit with my hectic schedule of 18 hours of class work. Disappointed and stressed, I settled on putting my focus on schoolwork for the first semester and looking for new jobs in the spring. Just in time, I received an email from Kim Pollard, President and Founder of Bookkeeper Girl, inquiring on my fall internship plans. She had received my application and hoped to meet me for an interview via Skype. (Lesson #2: Look for forward thinking employers, who embrace new technology. They tend to be on the cutting edge of their professional field.)

Before the interview, I researched BKG in-depth, trying to discover who the company was and if they were the right match. I found out that although BKG is a small bookkeeping firm, Kim has large plans and personal investments in people all over Denton, TX. (Lesson #3: It’s okay to cyber stalk a little… or a lot before a big interview. Knowing who the company is can only help, when they are asking the tough questions.)

Originally, I had hoped to find an internship with a PR firm who might be able to give me more of a picture of the PR industry. However, it’s always important to recognize the powerful position interns play in a small company. Working in a smaller company with big dreams, opens the potential to serve in many different areas of business. If the company is willing to dream big and share their ideas and knowledge with their interns, then a small business may be the perfect fit for a college student who’s serving as an intern. (Lesson #4: Try to find small businesses, which have past internship programs. They will understand the importance of training and have experience working with college students. They want you to have previous work experience. You should want them to, as well.)

After a 24-minute interview, Kim offered me the job and I started work less than a week later. This is my first assignment: to share my experience at BKG with the students of the Denton area. I feel deeply blessed to have my position at BKG and I am eager to share my tidbits of advice with students in the area. Stay tuned in the next issue to learn more advice about interning in the DFW area and go to our blog, at http://www.bookeepergirl.com, to hear from all of the interns at BKG.