July 2011 Archives

This summer, I'm interning at the Metropolitan Council on an exciting initiative called Corridors of Opportunity, a regional planning grant working to ensure affordable housing and access to jobs along the emerging transitways in the Twin Cities. It's precisely the type of internship I was hoping for, and I continually take stock throughout the summer to make sure I'm learning as much as possible, expanding both my knowledge and skill set.

Many of you are probably working at internships this summer, too, and I recently came across a helpful article that reminded me of how to get more out of my internship. In the Harvard Business Review blog post "Nobody Has Time for Interns," Glickman raises the issue that internships take time and effort on the part of the supervisor - sometimes more time than they have available. She suggests that interns take on this challenge in the following ways:

  • Take initiative to propose projects you can do
  • Play to your strengths, such as technology
  • Offer suggestions for how you can help, rather than asking "how can I help?"

Of course, I believe the more time and effort that internship supervisors put into mentoring and guiding the intern, the better results they'll see from the contributions of the intern. Supervisors should be willing (and hopefully find it rewarding) to make this effort if they agree to take on an intern. But it never hurts to remind interns, especially at the graduate level, that they'll get out what they put into it, as well.

Some other suggestions I thought of are:

  • Ask a lot of questions, even potentially challenging questions that may shake things up a bit. You could bring new perspectives and shed light on "the old guard" way of doing or thinking about things.
  • Take time for one-on-one conversations with colleagues in other departments and at partnering organizations to find out about their work and careers. Consider these folks part of your new network.
  • Check in with professors about what you're learning and get their insights and advice.

Get more guidance about internships at Harvard Business Review's "Guide for Summer Interns."

Also, if you are doing an internship as part of the Humphrey School graduation requirements, don't forget to fill out the Internship Agreement Form, review it with your supervisor to get their signature, and submit it to Martha Krohn in the Career Services Office at the address listed on the link to the form above.

I always get excited by the innovative thinking of entrepreneurs and artists who have creative minds and see the world in unique ways. Turns out, the new economy requires we all try out these skill sets of thinking differently. An article by Thomas Friedman in last week's New York Times, "The Start Up of You," discussed the changing job market, with leaner and more innovative companies leading the pack. The article offered some tips about how to adapt to the changing job market:

  • Experiment and adapt what you learn

  • Use your network to identify opportunities

  • Think like an entrepreneur by differentiating and experimenting

  • Be resilient

These concepts go hand in hand with the thoughts of another entrepreneurial thinker, Daniel Pink, author of "A Whole New Mind" and "Free Agent Nation." I've been reading "A Whole New Mind" this summer, which discusses the need for a creative economy to replace the knowledge economy, due to an increasing amount of automation and the increasingly wide plethora of jobs getting shipped overseas. His theory is that right-brained thinking - using our creative sides - is what can set us apart and prevent our jobs from getting automated. The book is full of suggestions on how to tap into your right-brain qualities like empathy, story and design, with such suggestions as

  • going to design museums

  • listening to Mozart's Symphony No. 35, "Haffner Symphony"

  • creating an inspiration board, and

  • joining a laughter club.

    • So go ahead, challenge your usual way of thinking. Get creative. Think about your career path in new ways that will set you apart from the competition. It certainly can't hurt, and it might even help.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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