The value of an intern.
People complain that interns are too much to manage and they screw work up more than they help. However, I think that if you really take the time to hire the right person, treat them with respect, and train them well, they can be an enormous asset to a team. I was fortunate to hire and work with a phenomenal intern this past year who brought a fresh energy, intuitive understanding, and a strong work ethic to our small but mighty office. For me, she was a gift; I could delegate tasks and know that they would be completed well, and I valued her second set of eyes on many of my own tasks. Today is Tahira’s last day, and I wanted to share this quote from her extremely insightful reflection:
I’m leaving with a new understanding that philanthropy is not just about the money; the money facilitates the action and its spark inspires change.
What I love about this - besides that she hit the nail on the head with what I, too, love about philanthropy - is that Tahira was hired as an office intern but was able to intuit so much more. It’s a reminder that those of us fortunate to have a stable job have a unique ability to mentor an intern; we can place them in an environment where they can be both an asset and an active observer. It’s a win-win.
HR Tip: Know Your Job Description
This interesting article from New York Magazine highlights how even high-powered women like Valerie Jarrett know they do a lot, but can’t quite put a finger on it. The job description is amorphous, and it’s worth defining.
A job description is never perfect, but it should be written, periodically reviewed with a direct supervisor and other team members as appropriate, and followed to the extent possible. Usually, there is a catch-all line for flexibility (ie: Assist with other office duties as needed), so neither you nor your company will feel pigeonholed. Having an active and recognized job description is really a win-win for you and the company; it gives you a personal guideline and self-advocacy tool, and it gives your employer a way to evaluate your job proficiency and understand what is on your plate. Plus, when you’re looking to that next step career-wise, whether it’s in the same vein or completely unrelated, you can use this tool to evaluate what has worked for you and what hasn’t.
I’m curious to add some personal anecdotes; what has been your experience with job descriptions?
Looking for your next career move but have no idea what it should be? Curious to expand your horizons with no commitment? I am a huge fan of informational interviews, because you can get no-pressure insight from people with experience. This blog post is a really great guide to a successful informational interview.
Who should you interview? I have a few tactics that you can learn in my Brainery class, but one of my favorites is this:
- Make 5 columns on a sheet of paper (portrait orientation). The header for each column should be someone you know very well (ie best friend, professor, professional mentor, parent, cousin, sports coach, etc.).
- Under each name, write 10 people that they know that you have either never met or have only ever met casually. You do not need to know their name; it could just be their connection (ie her cousin with the glasses, coworker (dave or dan?), guy at coffee shop she talks to every day).
- You now have 50 names in addition to the 5 you started with. Circle 6. Make a point to connect with those 6 in the next month.
Good luck! Do report any informational interview successes or ask any questions!
[UPDATE: 9/25/2013: it appears that the original link is broken, but here’s a new great post on Informational Interviews via Idealist]
This article highlights some crazy things that people have done to get noticed and get hired. Some of my favorites:
Turn the tables. Young programmer Andrew Horner asked employers to apply to have him work for them. “I will favor those job offers which fulfill my listed preferences,” he wrote, “but you shouldn’t worry too much if you don’t meet all of them; just be sure to let me know exactly what it is that you feel your company has to offer me.” His site went viral. Result: 44 offers, and a job at a mortgage financing site.
[Go to his site; I really like the design, tone, copy, and custom illustrations.]
Give them free advice. Sandip Singh, CEO of GoGetFunding, says he hired a programmer after the man had “spotted an error on our site and told us what code we needed to change in order to fix it.”
Send a clever design. Eric Gandhi created a resume that looked like a Google search-results page, which he says helped him get a job as a designer at the Weather Channel.
Standing out is good as long as it is true to who you are and that it meshes with characteristics a company is looking for. And, once you decide to go big or go home, follow through.
Not so bold? Here’s how I propose you jumpstart your job hunt.
Taking time away from work and our digital devices improves our health, our happiness and our productivity. But who is responsible for making sure we take that time off?
A new study from the Northern Illinois University, the University of Evansville and Auburn University looked into how Facebook personality corresponds to work performance. Facebook-savvy HR researchers graded a sample of profiles according to the so-called Big Five personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) and then six month later, compared the evaluations of the same sample’s work supervisors and found a strong correlation for traits including intellectual curiosity, agreeability and conscientiousness.
I always have appreciated the insight into personality and character that an online presence can give, so while you don’t necessarily have to “clean it up” or put on airs, you may want to think about how those traits are or aren’t reflected on your page.
(the full article can be found on Mashable)