Internships – a good way to gain work experience

Nowadays, it is not easy for students or graduates to find a job, be it during their studies or they have finished. Often, when a person applies for a job, he or she is required to have some work experience. Companies always prefer applicants with work experience in the field for which he or she is applying. Whether you have the necessary work experience or not, you can always apply for an internship. Organizations that offer internships usually do not require work experience. They in fact provide it.
Companies providing internships offer work to university students or graduates. They are usually willing to provide temporary jobs lasting from one month up to one year to people with little or even no work experience. Though there are potential disadvantages. Internships are usually unpaid, with little money compensation or other benefits like accommodation or food provided by the company. However, do not look at an internship as an opportunity for earning money or acquiring other material or financial benefits. Rather, what one gains from an internship is practical experience and a range skills in a specific field, as well as a higher likelihood of finding your dream job in the future.

Firstly, doing an internship will improve your CV. You will become a more valuable asset on the labor market. The fact that someone did an internship shows his or her pro-activity and interest in doing something to improve their skills. In school, they usually just teach us theoretical knowledge. However, an internship can expand your practical skills. Secondly, not only can you learn how to use your theoretical knowledge in practice, you can try try diverse kinds of roles in the firm. The more things a person tries and knows how to do, the more work experience he or she will get and apply in the future. It is essential to set yourself apart from others when you are applying for a job. So gather as much new work experience as you can .

Another important point worth mentioning is that it is good to try and get involved with whatever kind of work you can. You might not be sure about your future career, what you would like to do. The likely reason is that you have actually never tried or worked in that field yet. Then when you do an internship in the field,you will see if you are able and if you would like to do it in the future. Internships are generally short-term so you can test your career without committing and find out if this career would satisfy you.

The usefulness of an internship consists in the fact that you do not need any work experience. Companies are willing to train you as an intern and bring you the experience you need. Later, when your internship is over, it might happen that your employer wants to keep you in the company for a permanent job. So it is not only just a good way to gain experience, but you could also be rewarded with a a real full time job . Also, it is a great way to meet people and build a network within your field. You can meet many people who could become useful contacts for your future. Even if you do not remain working in the company, later you might get some interesting offers from people you got to know. Moreover, the references from your employers will really add value to your applications for later jobs. Usually, you can get these references especially from the internships.

No risk, no fun

Finally, school is over and holidays begin. On the one hand, there are many students who use their spare time to relax and to go on holiday. Of course, this is their good right and they have really deserved this recreation. And on the other hand, there are young people who already want to start working on their future and therefore do internships in all kinds of companies. Both solutions for spending your time during summer are quite nice, but have you ever thought about doing something different? Something that not everybody does? What about opening up your own business?

I know that it may sound frightening for some people to own a whole company but it can be a great opportunity to work on a project you really enjoy. You do not have to start with borrowing $1,000,000 on the bank and risk your whole existence for this business. You could also start small with a smaller amount of starting capital. For example, if you produce clothes at home and sell them on the internet, there is for sure not that much capital necessary to start. Being your own boss means that you have many freedoms. You can work whenever you like to and decide on your own how you want to solve different problems.

Do you really think that it is a coincidence that the richest 2 % of adults in the world own more than half the world’s wealth (according to a study released by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University)? I think that in order to live an outstanding life (at least in terms of money), you have to become an entrepreneur – and you can start laying the foundation when you are still at school.

With a Positive Mental Attitude – short PMA – you can achieve everything. I know this sounds kind of naive but you will be surprised what you are able to do if you try to look at things with the right perspective. And who knows… Maybe you even have some employees in your own company in the future. Then you can show your leadership skills, which is really exciting – much more than being an average employee.

Of course there are also many negative sides of being an entrepreneur, but for every problem there is a solution. Do not be afraid of asking other people or your employees for their opinion or advice. This is no sign of weakness but of strength – and every great manager will confirm you that a good boss recruits professional people that are better in a certain department than himself.

If we always go the safe way, we will never experience how adventurous life can be and how thrilling an adrenaline kick can be. No risk, no fun.

Goodbye Erasmus, Hello Erasmus+

What’s new

Thinking about doing an internship abroad? Well, you could not wish for a better time to do it: the world-known Lifelong Learning Program Erasmus has been improved this year. The new program is called Eramsus+, let’s see together what is new.

What is it?
Erasmus is a European program that provides scholarships and subsidies for students and staff mobility between universities. The upgraded version Erasmus+ will not only offer the chance to study and train abroad, but also to volunteer and gain working experience. Erasmus+ is a big project that brings together the seven programs currently in place: Eramsus, Leonardo, Grundtvig, Comenius – which constitute the Lifelong Learning Program – and Edulink, Comenius, Alfa, Grundtvig, Tempus, Leonardo, Erasmus Mundus – which constitute the International Higher Education Program.

The objectives of Erasmus+ are improving skills and modernizing education, training and youth work while providing international experience. In fact, the overall goal is bridging the worlds of education and work to fill the gap of skills and the lack of working experience in order to improve employability. This is particularly relevant to tackle the tough time that Europe has been facing in these past years: 6 million young European people are unemployed – some countries are challenged by a youth unemployment of over 50% – and at the same time there are 2 million vacancies, due to lack of skills, as most employers report. Last but not least, having the chance to get to know a new country, new people and new cultures is a motivation booster which contributes to addressing the issues related to university drops or poor rates of enrolment.

What’s new?
1. Erasmus+ not only offers the opportunity to do an internship abroad to students who are still enrolled, but also to new graduates (within 12 months from their degree).
2. Everyone is entitled to up to 12 months of Erasmus abroad. So if you have already benefited from an Erasmus scholarship for less than 12 months, you can still leave for another Erasmus! For example, if you have been in Erasmus for 3 months, you can still apply for another 9 months.
3. Grants are organized in a three-tier system and range from 430 to 480 €, depending on the cost of life in the hosting countries.
4. Besides, covering all fields of studies, there is a new entry: sports. The new Erasmus+ will also support sport projects and address challenges such as doping, racism, violence and match fixing.

Bigger numbers
Erasmus+ is not only improved with better and streamlined application procedures, but also higher numbers. First of all, the budget amounts to over 14.7 billions Euro, which is 40% increase, reflecting the EU’s commitment to invest in these areas. Secondly – and most importantly – the numbers of grants are almost doubled: in the seven past years Erasmus allowed 2.5 million Europeans to leave, whereas Erasmus+ aims at providing opportunities to over 4 million Europeans. 125,000 is the number of institutions and organisations involved in implementing this initiative.

Applicants and hosting countries are:
-Member states of the European Union;
-other European countries that are not member of the EU, such as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Turkey;
-for a limited number of projects also some other countries are involved, such as Russia, Eastern European countries and countries on the Mediterranean Sea, like Tunisia and Morocco.

Requirements are always listed in the regulations of the institution where you apply and might change according to the hosting institution: make sure to get well-informed.

So, Erasmus+ has become an even greater opportunity to live a life-time experience in an international environment, from education to sports, from training to volunteering. It provides more chances, simplified and more user-friendly funding rules, fairer and more appropriate grants. Do not miss this opportunity!

How to have fun at work

As the American professor Randy Pausch concisely put it, “Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun”. To have fun, or even to just be content at work, is hugely important. Yet people often forget that this is a priority and see it as some far-off unreachable goal. Think about it, if you can have fun at work, it will have a huge effect on your productivity level and the way you take on new tasks. Enjoying your day at work should be on top of your list of priorities, so here are some ways to ensure your smile rarely wavers during your working days.

Do not feel that ‘being professional’ means ‘not having a sense of humour’
Colleagues who laugh together are colleagues who work well together. Professionalism is important, but being serious all the time is not. If you have fun and laugh with your colleagues it becomes so much easier to build up a strong working relationship with them. For example, when you are working in a team to make a presentation, your conversations do not have to be purely focused on the task in hand. Having a casual brainstorming session where you are laughing together and telling stories while also discussing the work can often lead to having the best ideas. Having a shared sense of humour is a way to connect with people and if you are comfortable with your colleagues, it is easier to express your ideas with them. Making light-hearted jokes with each other that everyone can find funny will do wonders for your happiness. Keep a sense of humour at work and you will keep your smile!

Have an ‘events committee’ to organise fun things to do after work
If you have an events committee at work, you can suggest ideas on fun things to do as an office and also have things to look forward to. Taking trips together as an office, or even something as simple as playing basketball after work, can help develop your relationships with the people you work with and lead to you becoming friends. When you know and like the people you are working with, it makes you feel comfortable and less isolated in the office. Here at Internship-UK, we recognise the importance of this and have an events team that organises things for us nearly every weekend, such as day trips to places, playing football after work and night time barbecues. There is a real sense of being a team that can work and have fun together, which definitely allows us to feel joy when we are working.

Add fun to meetings
It is no fun for anyone if meetings always follow the same tedious pattern. This makes it hard to listen to the topic matter and also to get excited about whatever is being discussed. If meetings are fun, it will be so much easier to get motivated and contribute to the discussion. Even just adding a humorous story at the start of a meeting can make it fun for everyone. Here at Internship-UK, we have a meeting at the end of everyday that we call ‘workshop’. This is a meeting where everyone comes together and generally we learn ways to improve ourselves in areas of communication, body language and interview techniques. These meetings are never boring and we often do fun team-building activities such as quizzes and competitions like ‘who can blow the biggest bubble’.

Have a ‘joke of the day’ programme
This little bit of informality at the start of every working day can do wonders for everyone. If you start your day with a laugh, this will help build up a positive attitude and you can tackle the first few tasks of the day with pleasure. Here at Internship-UK, we have a joke of the day for everyone, and also daily news and a daily inspirational quote. This brings everyone together as we are all reading and appreciating these daily updates.

The most important thing is to find joy in the little things that happen in the office. Yes, you may have a difficult task ahead of you, but take regular breaks and have fun with your colleagues to recharge your happiness and it will not seem half as bad. Internship-UK works with a PMA (positive mental attitude) policy and having fun at work is on top of our list of priorities, as it should be on yours.

How to find an internship in a company?

Whether you’re a student or not, it is likely that you have at some point found yourself in a situation where you need or want to find an internship in order to validate your year of study or acquire additional professional experience. But finding an internship is not easy in all situations. Below are the different ways in which to find a placement either abroad or in your country.

There are different ways to search for internships and some work better than others, but which are the best ? And why?

Before thinking about applying for an internship in a company, it is necessary that all your documents are ready, that is to say your CV and your cover letter. Once these documents are prepared you can begin your internship search. But how where to begin?

There are many different ways to apply for an internship. We’ll start with the most common way: on line. Indeed, on the internet you can write what you want into a search engine and will be presented with links where training scheme offers are posted every day. Generally there is a description of the offer and then you have to apply and upload your CV and your cover letter. This is called an application for an offer. Alternatively, there is the option of making a so-called spontaneous application, which involve sending mail directly to the company to explain that you are looking for an internship in this field – don’t forget to attach your CV and cover letter to this email. Applying via the internet is apparently not the best solution because it is often said that your email will be one of many that the company receive and therefore has a good chance of not being read and being sent directly to the trash bin. But never say never!

Then there is also the method of making a direct phone call to the company. This call can follow an email but it can also be the first step of the process of applying. This is a good method because you are in direct contact with the person and are able to react on the spot and receive a live response, and it can also show that you are motivated.

The door to door method involves going into the business without having contacted it beforehand, though it is less common because it is unlikely to work. You can give your CV and cover letter on the spot. Maybe this will lead to an interview…

Then, there is one last method: using your contacts. If you know someone who works in a company they may be able to help you find your internship. To be helped by someone present in the business is also called “string pulling”..

So, listed above are the different ways of finding an internship. Whether it is by internet, responding to an ad, by email, by phone, through an acquaintance or door to door, you have many chances of getting an interview as long as you have your cover letter, your ambition, and your CV in hand.

Boredom at work: how to fight?

An increasing inactivity in your work results in many observable symptoms: coffee breaks getting longer and are more frequent, your personal calls are multiplying, and you consult your personal mail twenty times a day… Each of these is a sign of your boredom of days at the office. The problem is that inactivity can cause a particular illness in its victims and can be especially dangerous when the boredom leads to exhaustion. In this case, it is not the stress that is causing the discomfort but the lack of challenge. Therefore I will give you some ideas for rediscovering your interest in and desire to work.

Before knowing how to fight this boredom, you must first analyse the situation. Browsing a few minutes per day on the internet or chatting with colleagues over coffee does not necessarily mean that the daily work is boring. There really is a big problem though when your private tasks take on an important part and take up a sizeable chunk of your working time. Of course, tell your colleagues if you are drowning under the weight of your work, But if you’re feel tired in the evening when your day has been completely calm then something is really not quite right. The only thing to do is to ask yourself about the interest you have in your work activity because a profound boredom coupled with a loss of interest can be dramatic.

The problem may come from an under-exploitation of your capacities by your employer. We know that we can do more and do better, but the concern is that we are confined to simple tasks in which we lack real interest. However, for people who are eaten up by boredom, it is always difficult to ask for more work, they must first “work hard” for that privilege. You must go to see your manager, who is not necessarily aware of your situation. In signalling your availability, you show you value efficiency and demonstrate your taste for work. When we do not grasp the meaning or the purpose of our daily work, motivation can be reduced. To restore some value to work, you must establish a dialogue with the manager to find out how your role fits into the functioning of the society. Your supervisor should be able to point out the elements of your work that make your function essential to a more ambitious project.

Another cause of boredom at work may be due to the lack of challenges. Without concrete goals or challenges, it is easy to lose all active involvement in your work. You must find challenges that fit your ambitions. Therefore you have to take the initiative: take on the the objectives that you have set yourself and find new missions which will allow you to practise your talents

One thing to remember, blossoming at work is not just a matter of increasing the mass of work done in a day. Indeed, use your free time to build relationships with your colleagues, for example whilst stood around the coffee machine. Avoid withdrawal, because that is what makes you feel bad at work.
Boredom at the office often comes from the environment in which we operate. A manager who can not delegate, a colleague who appropriates all the interesting tasks. If you can not change your environment, try to quit it. Be on the lookout for internal promotions and vacancies in other services.

Desperate times means desperate measures. This is the radical solution to give meaning to your life. Changing job may however be necessary for those who have gone astray on their professional path or that experience a great weariness in their job. It is a long process, so you better be sure of your choice.

How to handle the 5 most common internship troubles

Summer has began and you are ready for your internship. Fully motivated you enter the lobby of the company you will work for during your holidays. But after a few days you recognise that your job differs very strongly from your expectations. No reason to become desperate. Here you will find solutions for the 5 most common issues during internships.

  1. Your internship is not what you expected
    You thought you would get more interesting tasks? The room where you live is tight and smelly? You have to work for 12 hours per day? Your whole traineeship is simply not like you wanted it to be.
    The best way to avoid this horrible circumstances is to clarify your working conditions in details beforehand. If you have missed that you can still communicate with your supervisor. But ensure that you speak with him or her in a positive way. Show that you are interested in the success of the company and that you are willing to learn. Normally your supervisor wants you to have good experiences during your internship. If you clearly communicate your needs and expectations they will most likely help you to improve the situation.
  2. You are in conflict with your supervisor
    Sometimes it seems that your supervisor does not like you, because he or she always has a different opinion than you and nothing you do seems right. In this case it is very important to keep in mind that having different views is nothing unusual. Handling with conflicting minds is a good experience for you and you can learn a lot from it for your future. Try to show empathy and relocate yourself in the situation with your supervisor. When you see both circumstances it is more easy to find a compromise.
  3. Boredom
    You feel unchallenged and are ready with all your tasks before lunch? Now this situation is really not very difficult to handle. Just ask your colleague if he or she has a project for you or if you can help them with anything. If they don’t have anything to do for you, you could also ask your colleagues in other departments for work. And if really nobody has a job for you just use your time wisely. Read a book related to the field you are working in or search for more information in the internet. I am sure you will find something useful to do.
  4. You do not get enough directions
    Your supervisor gave you all your tasks for the day but nevertheless you do not know what to do because he did not explain it enough. Some people tend to think that asking all the time will annoy the supervisor but you should not be afraid to ask questions. They will understand that you are not a professional and simply do not have as much knowledge as they have yet. Nevertheless it is essential to pay attention to what is being explained – you could also take some notes – to avoid having to ask the same questions again and again. This is indeed annoying to your supervisor.
  5. You do not get enough feedback
    If you understand all your tasks, you have the optimal quantity of work to do but you do not get feedback – neither positive nor negative – it could be really demotivating. But also this problem can be solved very easily. Ask your supervisor how you could improve your work or if he or she liked your outcome. The best way to get feedback on a regular basis is to arrange a weekly meeting, in which you get feedback.

NETWORKING: the key to success?

Why networking matters for your career?
A simple statistic shows how useful networking can be: only 2-4% of people looking for a job online find one, more than 80% of job-seekers who have been recommended by one of their contacts, find work. It is really impressive to see how using your network can be a powerful factor in your job search.

However, to take properly advantage of your network you have to know some rules and tips to boost your chances of success.

How to build your network?
By using social media: the most professional and useful for business purposes is obviously Linked In. This network allows you to build your professional network, freely and easily, firstly with people you know directly then by networking itself. First you have to list persons you know: friends, colleagues, family, in fact all your contacts who can help you professionally, directly or not.

How to use it?
In your job search you will see how useful Linked In can be. Look for someone in your network who works in the field you are interested in, firstly in your direct network. If nobody matches your interests then you can look for someone in your friends’ network, and then ask your friend to introduce you to people who share your working concerns and ideas. If you succeed in having what is called a network interview, here is what you should do: introduce yourself, but how? Here you have to use your communication skills, by calling the person is the best, after having sent a private message on Linked In, in a professional manner of course. Usually the best way to begin a conversation with someone you do not know is to quickly explain your professional interests, your project and what field or company you are looking for. Afterwards, simply ask some questions about that and the person’s experience (people usually love speaking about their job!). This person may provide you with great advice and essential information, and very often, when the exchange has been pleasant for both of you, this person may give you another interesting contact for your project…

How to keep it going?
A very important thing to understand when you are networking is that it takes time and that you have to be actively involved in it. In other words, you have to, as some people will do for you, be ready to help others within your network. It’s a win-win strategy! You are helped, then you help, etc. that’s how it works. And then, I advise you to keep in touch with your network frequently, by sending your wishes or simply congratulating your contacts when they get a promotion, and checking the progress of your current and former colleagues. You have to be an actively involved contributor to your network, and be consistent with your network management.

Now, take your career into your own hands!

Internships may be the easiest way to finding a job

Internships may be the easiest way to finding a job

Finding a job in this tough economy is no easy feat, especially for college students and recent graduates. They often spend weeks searching for online job opportunities, writing cover letters and sending resumes. But what they really need to do is get an internship.

Nowadays, internships have become the new interview in the job search process for students and employers alike. Approximately 54% of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed, so the best chance you have as a student is to do an internship. A lot of surveys show us that you have a 7 in 10 chance of being hired by the company you interned with.

Not only can job-seeking students and college graduates land full-time jobs through internships but they also get a chance to test-drive a career before committing. On top of this, employers get the opportunity to find the talent they need to help grow their business without just relying on a short interview. For that reason, entry level employees are the future of a company and so in many ways the most important recruiting decisions an employer can make.

Another remarkable thing is that employers nowadays hire virtual interns, and the most important factor of this is that students are open to the idea of completing a virtual internship. For those who do not know, a virtual internship is a work experience program where the intern gains experience while working in a distant professional environment and is not physically present at the job location. In this way virtual interns can communicate with their employer through Skype, SMS etc. One of the key reasons that we have seen large growth in virtual internships is the flexibility they give to students, particularly during school time. Most employers believe interview performance and relevant work experience are the most important factors in their decision to hire, more significant than strong academic performance because they want to make sure that the student will be a good fit for the job. Moreover, employers will look at what the student has been learning at school, relevant projects, course work and extracurricular activities. In a highly competitive job employers want to see that a candidate has the hunger to be successful more than purely in an academic setting.

Below I present to you a diagram that I found while surfing the internet and that I thought would be very useful. The question is, can internships lead to jobs? This is a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. From the results we can see that 63.1 percent of students that had a paid internship had received at least one job offer, but in contrast only 37 percent of former unpaid interns could say the same, according to the data. The main reason paid interns tend to get better offers is that they spend more time getting hands-on experience, as opposed to handling administrative tasks.

pictureThe results were even worse when it came to salary. Among students who found jobs, former unpaid interns were actually offered less money than those with no internship experience.

As regards my opinion, I need to be critical and have a sceptical attitude about these results: Whilst it doesn’t surprise me that paid interns are more likely to get a good job, I do think unpaid interns have a good shot at using their experience and contacts to “land” a job.
One last thing to cheer you up: if you missed the internship boat this year, don’t panic: Next year should be even better.

How to be an awesome intern ?

An internship is not just about learning new skills and gaining professional experience, but it is also a great way to network and secure a post-graduation job. Here are the 5 golden rules for making the most of your internship.

1) Know and respect corporate culture

The first and most important thing you have to know is the company’s history and values. To give a good first impression to the interviewer, you have to show your interest in the company, and therefore must be informed about its beginnings and any big changes that have occurred in its history. And of course you have to respect the rules of corporate culture. It is not just about a matter of arriving on time, but also of following the particular working methods, the collective beliefs and dress codes … The corporate culture is a powerful notion which governs the behaviour of staff, without explicit existing rules. When you are a part of a company, you are a part of a culture in itself.

2) Work Hard

The best way to be noticed by your superior is to get involved in projects. Having a positive mental attitude and showing eagerness are the most effective means to learning and developing your skills. . Be proactive and enterprising, and seek out all the possible opportunities at your disposal.

3) Show your interest

As an intern you are expected to be motivated and keen to learn. You are expected to ask questions, intelligent questions of course. People are aware that you are in the company to learn as much as possible, so do not hesitate to ask questions. But do not forget that they will have their own work too, so do not be too intrusive. But at the same time, in doing so you will be evidencing your your interest to employer and proving that you are ready to invest the time necessary to do a good job.

4) Networking

Building a strong professional network is the key to beginning a career. Creating a LinkedIn account is the best way to stay connected with the company. By adding co-workers, clients and others interns, it will help you to build your professional network. Avoid Facebook or MySpace if it is possible because it can be hard to separate a personal network from a professional one. Also do not hesitate to hang out with your co-workers, to have a drink or go to dinner with other interns This way you will feel more comfortable speaking with people, and you have an opportunity to ask questions, and then possibly make more contacts that you can add to your LinkedIn account.

5) Keep in touch after your internship

When you finish your internship, do not leave without thanking the people who played a key role during this period. You can send, once you return to your studies, a thank you note, or even make a call to wish them a “Merry Christmas”, for example. Keeping in touch with the company and its staff can help you in your future professional life, once you are qualified and when looking for a job.

Now, you know how to be a perfect intern. Keep in mind what you are really looking for in this experience, the type of skills you are looking to learn and try to make connections with people for the future.