Cooperation vs competition: internship vs academic studies

We all know how it works. We all know that money means power and power means money. We all know that nobody gives you anything free. We all know that success is achieved through fight and struggle. Indeed, the animal we use to represent a boss or a famous lawyer is a shark, not a kitten.
The question is: is this aggressiveness necessary in order to reach your goals?
Since being children at school, we are marked. We are divided into A, B, C levels and, in Italy, also the way you behave is considered a subject and you receive a number between 5 and 10 to show how good and polite you are. Tests and exams are always taken singularly and they are meant to judge your preparation and your analytical skills. Teachers foment this competition among students, inciting them to work hard and do their best not as a team, but as individuals. In this system, selfishness and taking advantage of others are rewarded as key-skills for success. Academic competition, however, is not the only way to achieve your goals. It is very unlikely that you will work alone in front of a computer, without dealing with colleagues or service provider or customers –unless you are a hikikomori. This is the reason why you need to know how to work within a team and to succeed in doing so: how to lead a brainstorming session, how to get the best from every member of the group, how to communicate with the community and the individuals, how to suggest correction with kindness and how to motivate them. It is not relevant which role you embody in the team, because you are going to deal and cooperate with everybody. You can sharpen those skills by reading books, but it is something you learn on your feet in the job, rather than in a library.
The right place to improve it is the real world, in a real office, with an internship. In fact, the sooner you learn how to mix different parts of a common project, how to share problems and manage to solve them, the less you will find it hard to move from University to a real job. You need to adopt a different mental attitude: at work, there are no marks nor professors, but managers and customer satisfaction. In an office you will not find a tutor who is paid to listen to you difficulties, but you will have to face them without one (alone or trying to speak with your boss or colleagues). I know this is not an easy step, but practise is the best stepping-stone. An internship is like a training, a preparation for you future, real job, but with less responsibilities (all the duties and the commitment are, however, the same of a paid job position).
We, as Internship Uk, are able to provide you with a work experience in a range of different fields: translation, marketing, media, IT development, HR, management and much more. Improving your professional and communicative skills in a safe and protected environment, you will learn to deal with different tasks without the stressful fear of being fired! Moreover, you will quickly realise that being competitive is not the only way. Helping your colleagues and receiving advice from them in return is as important as being independent and able to work by yourself. Instead of studying alone in your bedroom (struggling with the desire to burn books), you will be surrounded by students with whom you can exchange energies, ideas, laughs and problems. Join us to improve your employability, your personal development and to live through an inspiring experience.
Stop competing against each other and remember we are all struggling with the same alarm clock every morning!

An outstanding internship report

If you have been accepted into the Erasmus Placement program, at the end of your internship you will have to provide your university with a report of your experiences in order to receive school credits. This report has to include three components: the outline and basic information of the company in which you did your internship, the summary of the work done, the specific aspects of the internship term that are relevant to your field and a critical analysis of the problems experienced. Importantly, the report must be concise and well-written.

First of all, in the description of the company it is important to give information about the mission, goals, industry and headquarters’ location, while other useful details could include the number of states and countries where the company is active, the number of employees and the annual sales.
In the description of your work duties, outline your specific responsibilities and activities and explain what the projects in which you were involved consisted of and the academic background requested. You should also give a detailed account of the specific technical functions of your position, pointing out the key data, equations or software that you generated or used and the names and functions of the machinery or instruments operated, analysing the application of the data of your particular project. The third part of your report consists of an explanation of the contributions that your work experience made to your career development, goals and growth and to your selection of future coursework. Among the courses you completed, assess the most or the least applicable to your internship, underline the distinctions between your education and work experience and evaluate the use that the internship made of your technical training background, pointing out your level of personal satisfaction and whether or not you would recommend this experience to others. In the last paragraph of the main body, outline the main obstacles you faced: you may find yourself dealing with challenges that you do not feel able to handle, or working in an environment which does not live up to your expectations. In any case, you should be able to stress how you maintained your professionalism, always working to find ways that are mutually beneficial to both you and the employer, that will help you solve the problems you are facing. As far as the style is concerned, favour short paragraphs over long ones and build them around topic sentences and keep yourself focused. Employ transition words at the beginning of pivotal sentences and paragraphs, in order to guide the reader’s thinking, and rely on active voice, rather than passive, especially when you describe your accomplishments. Moreover, take advantage of the most powerful punctuation marks to present material efficiently and use an honest and sincere tone, especially in the conclusion, when you assess the value of the internship to you personally. Last but not least, add an appendix: it allows you to include samples of written works, letters of evaluation and other documents. Only material directly referred to in other sections of the report should be included: therefore, you should be selective, including your most pertinent and best works.
By reading your report, your university representative has to be able to fully understand your achievements during the internship: be thorough and provide a complete account in order to have your apprenticeship recognised as soon as you finish it. It is advisable to start preparing your report during the first month, taking notes of your tasks day by day, to have a scheme to follow and to write it quickly. Depending on the number of credits you need, the length of the report has to be between three and twenty pages and it has to emphasize new or unique experiences, particularly concerning the objectives of the internship. Besides, it gives you the opportunity to write your reflections on the program and express the most meaningful aspects once the experience is completed.

The main mistakes to avoid in your cover letter

When you are applying for a job or an internship, your CV and cover letter are really important. It is likely that the recruiters receive fifty applications per day, so in order to be selected for a position in the company, take your time in writing your CV and your cover letter.

Here are the main mistakes that you should avoid in a cover letter :

THE PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING
Often, when you are writing your cover letter, you forget to take care with its presentation, which is very important because this is the first thing that your recruiter will see and it has to be clear and must catch the attention and spark the interest of the recruiter who will then read your cover letter.

DO NOT JUST TALK ABOUT YOURSELF
Of course, the cover letter is as an opportunity to describe your profile to the employers, to present yourself to them and to show your motivations, but do not just talk about you. Indeed, if you talk about the company, the recruiter will see that you are very interested in the position and also that you are curious to know about them in return. So it is recommended that you write about the reasons for applying and why you want to work with them.

PAY ATTNETION TO YOUR SPELLING
Whether it is a mistake of conjugation, spelling, grammar, or a lack of attentiveness when you were writing (typos), they are all fatal errors for your application. So take your time to write your letter, be careful with the mistakes and if you are not sure about a word, how to spell it for example, do not hesitate to ask someone for help, or check on a dictionary which is safer.

AVOID WRITING TOO MUCH
A good cover letter does not exceed one page in length. With such a large number of applications, recruiters cannot read all of them. If it is too long, they will not read it at all! Try to have no more than three or four paragraphs, and make sure that your letter is clear, brief, simple and precise.

DO NOT HAVE ONE MODEL OF COVER LETTER FOR ALL YOUR APPLICATIONS
Everyone knows that it is easier to have one model of cover letter for every application. But let us be honest, it is better to search and put the name of the company that you want and put it in the recipient space. If you are doing just one type of cover letter for every applications, you will definitely not receive a lot of responses. Recruiters will see you as someone who is lazy and not really motivated. Take your time to search for every piece of relevant information about the company where you want to work, talk about why you like this company in particular, and what you think about them. This may not require much effort on your behalf but it will for sure catch the attention of the recruiters.

Finally, just be yourself. Do not lie to get a job, it is unprofessional, will get you nowhere, and is very bad if the employer realizes. Be confident about what you really are and keep smiling at all times.

How to stay positive in a complex situation

Complex situations can occur anywhere, at any time : making a significant mistake at work, or wandering astray in a country abroad, the most important thing to learn is how to manage to get out of such a situation. For example, if you are doing your internship in New Romney, you may take the wrong bus, and arrive in another town. Here are five tips to keeping your self-control when things go wrong.

Keep your head on straight
It does not matter how bad the situation is, solutions can always be found if only you stay calm. Unexpected stress, even if sometimes a normal and common feeling, confuses your mind and your actions. Take a breath, and convince yourself that everything will be all right.

Be self-confident
To handle stress, you have to believe in your own ability. Troubles are likely to arise at any moment – life is not a bed of roses – so always be aware of this, allowing yourself to quickly find a solution to any problems that do pop up. A lack of self-confidence can be self-destructive, and so can aggravate an already bad situation. Try to reflect quickly, but also smartly on the solutions you can employ.

Learn to ask for help
For example, you realise after a long time has already passed that you are on the wrong bus for going to the office. What are the possible solutions ?
1- Tell the driver where you want to go, and explain your mistake to him.
2- Ask a benevolent passenger for assistance and advice, and get off the bus at the next bus stop.
3- Call your supervisor in the office who will be able to help you in the best way possible.
Asking for help is not a weakness, on the contrary it is proof of your capability to recognise your own limits. And do not forget to stay cool during your interactions with people.

Learn from your mistakes
Blaming yourself is useless. Just try to convince yourself to be more concentrated the next time and try to avoid other errors. As everyone knows, life is full of risks and uncertainties, which make us make wrong choices sometimes. Stepping back from these wrong choices or mistakes helps you to grow and mature. When you stay focused on the same trouble, you block your potential for growth. Turning into your own tormentor is the wrong attitude to have.

Is it really a complex situation ?
We must try to put things into perspective, and stop thinking that every situation is complex, abnormal, or tricky. It is just a new event within your life, and you will treat this one like you used to treat the others. Every practical problem has solutions; or rather there are no problems, just solutions. The only issue is how you choose to get out of inappropriate situations, and not the fact that you have been in the unwelcome situation in the first place. The best way to do this is to look to the future, and take advantage of a future wellness; tell yourself that the present situation is only temporary and that things will return to their equilibrium soon.

Conclusion

In the development and natural selection of different species, those that adapted best to deal with stress have survived and evolved. This is the best reason not to let yourself collapse under the weight of stress induced by a complex situation, and to try to surpass this feeling. Stay cool !

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.

Student Life in the UK: An Insider’s perspective

I have lived in the UK my whole life and have been a university student here for the past two years at the University of Stirling, Scotland. During this time, I have lived and studied away from home and fully immersed myself into the culture that you would call ‘student life’. Of course, student life will vary from place to place but I think there are a few basics that can be applied to all British universities. Personally, I really enjoy all aspects of my life at university here in the UK and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

First – the technicalities. In Scotland, the length of an ordinary honours degree is four years, and in England, it is three. Three year honours degrees are also common in other parts of the UK, in Wales and Northern Ireland. There is the option to do a normal degree without honours for a three year period in Scotland, however the four year honours option is more common.

Also, it is likely that if you are coming from abroad to study in the UK you will have to pay. However, if you have lived in Scotland for a certain amount of years before applying, you will not have to pay anything in tuition fees. There are also other discounts available if you live in the EU as the university will cover up to 50% of your tuition fees. Of course, there is always the option to apply for a scholarship or have a company sponsor you throughout your degree.

Next – a day in the life of a typical UK university. A week’s timetable will include a mixture of lectures and seminars (also called tutorials). For each semester, you will be required to pick a pre-set amount of modules (classes) – anything from 2 to 10 depending on how intensive they are. When picking modules, there will be a few that are compulsory in relation to your degree but often students get some freedom in choosing what additional subjects they would like to take. Also, unlike other university systems in Europe, you are not required to pick up a language class unless it is essential to your degree.

Now, we move on to halls (university accommodation). It is advised by all universities that for your first year you move into halls. That way you can meet new people, make friends and learn how everything works. University halls are hugely varied in size, design and how many people you are sharing with. Personally, in my first year I lived in a corridor with fifteen people and we all shared a kitchen, which I loved because I got to meet so many people. Living in halls is such a great experience – everyone is in the same situation, all finding their feet and trying to make friends and also it is great for your social life, all the best parties happen in halls!

Another huge aspect of student life in the UK is going out on weekdays. Often bars and nightclubs will have student nights in the middle of the week with low entry and drink prices. For example, at my university Tuesdays and Thursdays are the big nights out of the week. Of course the aim is still to make your lectures the next day, but it is a great tradition that means you don’t have to wait until the weekend to go out and have fun with your friends.

Finally, a huge aspect of British student life are university societies and sports teams. Often many universities will have funny societies such as ‘the chocolate appreciation club’ that you can join, meet new friends and sit around joking with each other. There are also more serious societies such as the business club which are beneficial towards your degree. Sports clubs are very good to join to make friends and have a bit of light competition. For example, I joined the Cheerleading sports club for some fun and it really is a great way to meet new people.

While coming abroad to the UK to study for a degree is great for the CV, it will also be a great personal experience. Along with student culture comes a great social aspect where you have the opportunity to meet new people all the time and develop a wide circle of friends. British universities are a great culture to immerse yourself in, having done it myself I would highly recommend it.

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.

Why?
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.

Where?
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
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.