Posts Tagged 'internship'

Interview Prep

I know that preparing for interviews can seem like a waste of time sometimes.  In the basic sense, it is just having a conversation, so why not just go in with the attitude of: “I’m just gonna go in there, be myself, answer their questions with great stories, and knock the interviewer’s socks off.”  And the answer is, because that probably isn’t how it will go at all if you don’t do any prep work, like having answers for common questions prepared.

When I was up in Chicago for the MBA Veteran’s conference, I participated in a conversation with some fellow combat arms vets that probably could have been titled:  The greatest hits of terrible interview question answers.   The questions that were asked in the interviews were generally along the lines of:

“Tell me about a time you were in a seemingly impossible situation, how did you find an innovative solution?”

“Tell me about a time when you were under a lot of stress and had to make a difficult decision?”

“Describe a time when you worked as part of a team to meet a seemingly impossible goal?”

“Describe a time when you used your leadership skills in order to resolve a conflict?”

As a former infantryman who went on multiple overseas deployments, I have a fair amount of experience working in adverse situations, making difficult decisions, working as a part of a team, and using leadership skills.  But, as the mental Rolodex clicks through my life’s story, the first experience that comes to mind for any of those questions is not one that I am going to use in a job interview.  The reason I say that isn’t because I lack pride in my time as a Marine, or am ashamed of what I did overseas or anything like that.  The reason is that the interviewer is not going to be able to understand how to translate those answers into potential value for the company.   During a job/internship interview, the potential employee has to show that it would add value to the company to bring them on board.   If your answer takes the interviewer to a situation and place that they will never understand, full of acronyms and jargon that sounds like a foreign language, they are not going to be able to grasp the value that you can add to their company through your past experiences.  Instead of stories appropriate for the VFW hall, focus on positive stories, that showcase skills like the ability to work as part of a team, be a leader, use time management efficiently, make timely decisions, ect…

So, in my humble opinion, if you are in a situation where you are going to be going to interviews, taking the time to think through some answers to typical behavioral interviewing questions.  That is what I have done, and now I have alternative experiences to draw on, and don’t need to rely on the first experience that comes to mind when someone asks me about a time when everything was going wrong, and success seemed impossible.

I know this post seems rather veteran-centric, but I think it applies to everyone.  It is a good idea to think before you speak in an interview, and make sure that your story conveys a sense of added value to the company that they will be able to understand.  That generally isn’t something that is going to happen without some prep work ahead of time.


An afternoon with Alcoa

In all the excitement last week, with the case competition, and studying for exams this week, I almost left out writing about another awesome opportunity I had last week. Last Wednesday, the aluminum manufacturer Alcoa had a function on campus relating to some of the grants they have given to the school for various research projects.  If you are interested in reading more about those grants, I am going to include a link to the Lantern (Ohio State’s student newspaper) article about it: http://thelantern.com/2013/10/aluminum-company-grant-ohio-state-250k-2014/.

As the article notes, Alcoa’s chairman & CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld, was present at the function, as were several other executives from the company.  Alcoa, in case you didn’t know, is ranked 128th on the Fortune 500 list for 2013.   I thought that it was pretty awesome to get to attend a rather small (under 100 person) function at which a CEO of that caliber was speaking, and took the time to share his honest answers to student questions on a variety of issues. After the formal presentation was over, there was a more casual networking dinner with the executives present.  Opportunities like that don’t just come along every day, but they do seem to come by much more often now that I am a MBA candidate than they did in the corporate world.

That is one of the great things about Ohio State, and Fisher College of Business, is the breadth and depth of ties to industry that the organizations have.  Just based off the sheer numbers of graduates every year, Ohio State has one of the largest bases of alumni in the country, and that can be a powerful thing when you are trying to network professionally.  The different colleges on campus also have ties to industry in their own sectors as well, either through their faculty and staff, or through collaboration on projects.   This broad network can come in handy when trying to attain better information about a target organization or industry.

As an aside, one reason that I was very excited to attend this Alcoa event, is because the corporation is active with a group called American Corporate Partners (ACP).  ACP is a mentorship program which connects qualified military veterans with mentors who are all business executives.  I am an alumni of the program, and the gentleman who was kind enough to devote time to being my mentor is an executive with Alcoa, so I have a high regard for the company.  If you are a veteran looking into business school or entering the corporate world, I highly recommend applying for ACP.


Keeping Pace

There was a saying that we used in the Marine Corps: “It is easier to keep up than catch up.”

This phrase mostly applied to things like running or forced marches in that context, but it seems to me that is is quite applicable to an MBA program as well.   Time management is a crucial skill that is needed in order to thrive in this sort of environment.  In the Marines they begin training in stress inoculation and time management almost immediately.  It is not uncommon in boot camp for something simple, like making a rack (bed), to be given an impossible, or nearly impossible time restriction, and it progresses from there to more complex issues with seemingly impossible time constraints.

Important life decisions.

Time management and the ability to work under duress are two of the many valuable skills (along with leadership), that the Marines helped instill in me.   So, back to the MBA program, during the program, there are a lot of priorities that need to be balanced.  Some of the main ones are:

  • School:  Not just going to all of my classes, but doing homework assignments, studying, and working on projects.
  • Future Careers:  Especially for people like myself looking to switch careers, I need to actively work on building my professional network, attend company info sessions and events, job fairs, apply for jobs, hopefully interview for jobs, work on my resume, and meet with my career counselor.

    First Career Fair as a graduate student today!

  • Student organizations:  There are a myriad of student organizations at Fisher, and they all offer valuable opportunities to students.  There is certainly not time to join all of them, but I have joined several, but each additional one requires an additional time commitment.
  • Personal:  This is possibly the easiest to neglect, but humans need sleep, and to eat, and every once and a while to relax.  Things like going to the gym take time, but it is something that should not be neglected.  Also, having a social life within the program is important.  A big part of business school seems to be networking, so doing things like going to happy hours, and football games are important to building strong relationships with classmates.

All of these areas need to be kept in balance, and maintained, sometimes one is going to be more in focus than the rest, but that doesn’t mean the rest can be neglected.  If I neglect an area, then I am going to fall behind in it, which means that in the future, I will need to expend the same amount of energy needed for it now, plus the energy needed for it in the future, in order to catch up.  That is in addition to meeting all of the other requirements from the other sections of my life.  So, a short term sacrifice now, causes long term harm if I decide to slack in one or more areas.  So, even though it might seem overwhelming sometimes, keeping up with it all is easier than trying to catch up with it all in the future.  I should thank my Drill Instructor for the life lesson.

 

Four simultaneous Script Ohio’s is an amazing thing.


The End of the Internship

This week is it, the end of an era. Goodbye, internship. Started last April, I have been fortunate to experience a year-long internship at one of the most respected companies in business: GE. Not a quarter has gone by that my classmates and I haven’t heard of some human resources example from the world of GE. Admittedly, I have not seen many of these innovations at the plant level, at least not directly. Perhaps they are corporate keepers? Regardless, this has been an invaluable year for learning and development.

When I started at the Circleville Lamp Plant last April, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had never worked in a manufacturing environment, and my office, located inside a block building in the center of the factory, lacked a little bit in the “inspirational” setting department. But oh how each new engineering intern loved to look at those orange office chairs!

What the office lacked in ambiance, though, it made up for in opportunity. As a plant of about 230 employees working as tightly staffed as possible, each intern (or co-op as we were called) had to serve as a full member of the staff. There was simply no use for anyone who wanted to file and fetch coffee, only. Each quarter I served as an HR co-op recruiting engineering co-ops for four lighting plants. This entailed recruiting, selecting, interviewing, onboarding and tending to more than a half-dozen students who came through the door each quarter. I also assisted with staffing for permanent positions and created a harassment-awareness training program for the plant. It was a wealth of work and learning, and I relished every minute of it.

Being treated as a valuable member of the team, instead of as “just a co-op” made the difference between an average experience and an unforgettable one. My manager, a well seasoned HR manager who originally hails from Maine was equal parts sage, career advisor, manager and friend. As Darrell is fond of saying, “When you’ve been around for 110 years as I have, you learn a few things.” And each week I did my best to tap into that wealth of knowledge, knowing there is still so much I have left to learn!  I’m sure he will receive more than one panicked email from me in the future as I start my HR career.

Already I’m missing all of them. Robin, the HR administrator who spent some 20 years on the floor before coming to work in the office, who easily answered all of my questions and shared in my exhaustion as a student and employee. Ruth Ann, who will celebrate 50 years at the plant this year, and knows all there is to know about life at CLP. Saundra, her daughter, who has worked in the warehouse since the late ’80s, and taught me about loosening up just a little bit. Tiff and Lisa, the plant nurses who keep everyone safe; Mike, the engineering manager who I collaborated with daily; and Steve, the plant manager who gave me a glimpse of running an organization, mixed in with tales from West Point and Iraq.

So for any MLHR students who are still searching for that perfect internship, remember that appearances can be deceiving. Beneath the old office chairs or factory setting might just lie the best learning opportunity you’ll have during your grad school years.

 


Extending Your Offer

I didn’t want to say anything until I had it in writing, but I’ve been extended again at OCLC in my HR Intern role.  What was supposed to be ten weeks, has turned into a full year.

Even though I’ll be moving to DC at the end of March (blog to follow), the miracles of modern technology and the graciousness of my employer are allowing me to work remotely for OCLC until June.

Thanks to Citrix, a remote desktop application, I can access my work hard drive from anywhere using my security token, an internet connection and my laptop.  I can work from anywhere essentially.

Working only one day a week in the office, and remotely the rest of the time, has presented an interesting challenge this quarter.  My day in the office is when I get to do all the physical things like put up marketing, take face to face meetings and coordinate with my manager.  Once I move, I will be coordinating with my manager over the phone and will return to Columbus twice a month or so, for a few days or so at a time, and work in the office.  I’ll probably put in more days in the office AFTER I leave than I have this quarter.  It has been a challenge, but very rewarding at the same time.

OCLC has been an incredible experience and when my 10 weeks were up, I didn’t want to leave.  I wanted to see through some of the projects that could not be pushed through during that time period and I wanted to work on some of the projects that were coming up in the pipeline.  So I asked to stay.  Simple as that.  Being that the position was local, I had the opportunity to do so.  I cut back my hours (boy did that first part-time paycheck shock!), and scheduled my work week with help from my managers so it would fit with my class schedule.

The HR Intern position for this year is actually structured so the intern will stay on for the fall semester on a part-time basis.  And don’t worry, if you’re a candidate or the future intern, don’t worry. I WILL leave before you start.

My advice to first years who will be starting their summer internships in a few short months is this: I recommend you do the same if you can.  Even if the position is not local, you could possibly work remotely.  It’s great experience, looks wonderful on your resume, and a regular paycheck never hurt, even if diminished.  It also doesn’t hurt to ask.

Good luck to all the first year MLHR candidates!


“The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry”

So I said at the beginning of the summer term that I was going to write about once every other week instead of the usual once a week.  Well clearly that did not happen since the quarter and my internship are almost over.  I have nothing clear to say, so I am going erratically express my thoughts and hope that you enjoy then when you are procrastinating/bored/clearly not doing anything important or significant in your life at this time by reading this blog.

  • I took one undergraduate course this summer.  Introduction to Counseling Psychology.  It literally made me want to drop out of the program and go back to undergrad.  Well actually, I have wanted to do that after the first quarter of being a grad student, but in a different way.  I forgot how easy (well at least now as a graduate student) undergraduate courses were.  I aced every exam, but did not start studying for each one until the day of the exam (I did not ace the final because it was cumulative and I think I got too cocky).  There were LOADS of extra credit opportunities (which I have missed so much).  There was only one assignment, that required no prior reading or course work to be learned or completed before turning in (it was all hypothetical).  I obviously aced the class which is great, because I am finally close to having a GPA I would actually want to put on my resume.  The only thing I have realized is that after a year of classes starting at 6pm in the evening is that I CANNOT take any class that does not meet in the evenings, and meets more than one day a week.  Those classes are long, but it allows you to space out your work and academic schedule at a better pace.  I was not the fan of it when I first started the program, but it is what I prefer now.
  • I think I have learned a lot from my other 2 classes.  With my Teaching Adults Online class, it is very “I am Teacher” and not a “I am Training Coordinator” in how the course is designed and what it teaches you.  I figured that was the way it would be designed, but I am excited to see how I can apply concepts to this class to the Training and Development class I take in the spring.
  • I have also enjoyed my negotiations class too.  Not only have I valued the skills I have obtained from practicing my skills in every class, but I have also appreciated the chance to interact with some of the MBA students as well.  My cohort is great, but one of the things I liked about undergraduate classes (at least my experience) is the chance to take classes with different and new people.  I hope that any second years taking the class in the fall considers doing negotiations and working in groups with some of the MBA students, because they are not as intimidating/scary/evil as you think (well a few are but I mean you could say that about some people in the MLHR program … but NOT me :-)).
  • I really can’t wait until fall for football season.  But most importantly, because hopefully global warming will have subsided and I will not sweat profusely in my house.  None of my other 2 roommates want to pay for air conditioning, so I just sit in my room dying on a nightly basis.  I actually stay at my internship longer just to enjoy the air conditioning.
  • Speaking of internships, mine is about to come to an end.  I did not sign up for the internship blog, so I am not going to go on and on about what I have done.  BUT….I did work on a lot of recruiting for student positions (particularly the marketing for those positions), calculating turnover costs, performance appraisals of our managers, and enhancing the overall process employees have from being an applicant to starting their first day (at this time I cannot think of the HR term to use to describe this).  Thanks to “Excel for Dummies” I’m starting to get better with this Microsoft product as well.
  • I went to the Ke$ha concert at the Ohio State fair and it was awesome.

Well that’s basically been my summer.  I probably will not have anything else interesting to say until school starts so sorry for not meeting your expectations, blog-wise :-)

-G

P.S.-If there is any member of the cohort I miss the most it would be Eric J Dosch because:

1. His postings about me would always boost my self-esteem like no other and

2. He has the best teeth in the world.

P.P.S-I have no idea how I am going to manage studying in the fall.  I all of a sudden have a TV schedule set Tuesday-Thursday. I am not going to tell you the shows I am watching due to dignity purposes, but let’s just say that my DVR has a lot of ABC Family, CW, BET, and MTV programming recording on a weekly basis.


The Hotter Months So Far

So I said that I was going to blog over the summer, but less frequently as during the summer.  I mean technically I do not have to, but anytime I get some writing published online it makes my bachelor’s degree in Journalism seem somehow a bit more worthwhile.

Most people in the Fisher MLHR program are all over the country and globe working their internships.  I am doing my internship with Student Life Human Resources at the university.  Throughout the year, I work for University Residences and Dining Services which is a branch of the Office of Student Life.  Whereas I normally work with issues related to just Dining Services, this summer I am helping out with bigger projects with Student Life in general, and not my particular branch.  So far, I have been helping with creating the Orientation that every single student who gets a job within the Office of Student Life are required to complete, and organizing qualitative data from focus groups that were conducted about the student employee experience to name just a couple of things.

In addition, I am also taking summer classes.  Emphasis on the plural.  As in like the normal 12 credit hours that we take throughout the year.  Why?  My internship is only 30 hours a week, so I have the opportunity to do so.  Second, as I have told most people, I need to keep at the same “Grad School Garren” pace so that I will have the mental stamina to keep up with this program for another year.  I seriously think that if I were to have an academic vacation over the summer that it would have turned into a permanent vacation.  Because of this, I do not think I will have as hard of a time coming back to classes as everyone else in the fall, but for the fact that classes officially started last week and I have an exam tomorrow, I am currently kind of kicking myself.

So as far as to what I am taking:

Introduction to Counseling

This is an upper division undergraduate course (so I feel super old) – and also cross listed as a graduate course.  It will be over in 3 weeks (hence why I am already taking exams).  I thought it would be a good class in the whole employee relations and counseling coworkers field.  However, they do not teach you how to counsel.  However, it does count as an elective and is pretty interesting.  It is weird that I have class 2 days AND in the morning, but that will help me prepare to get in that schedule for one of the classes I am taking in the fall.

Managerial Negotiations

This is my only class with Fisher.  It is mainly composed of WPMBAs.  I am pretty sure I am the youngest one in the class, but there are some familiar MLHR faces.  I am really interested in the topic.  It is slightly intimidating that it is not an MLHR class, and I am kind of nervous to speak up (not out of being shy but out of not wanting to say something stupid and the MBAs to see me as that “dumb HR person”).  We have discussion groups for every class.  Of my group, there is another MLHR, but I am the only one who does not have a full-time job, professional experience, a spouse, or children…so once again weird.  However, I think I am going to like this class, because it is so different from the other courses I have taken so far.

Teaching Adults Online

This is an online class (don’t be fooled…it is just as jam packed as any other graduate level course at Fisher).  I thought it would be a good class, since I have not taken Training and Development yet.  Also, for the fact that EVERYTHING in the business world is using technology to improve their businesses, it will be nice to have this class under my belt when I do take T & D.

Other than that I have been having a decent summer.  Definitely not the blast I had last summer (this is the first time I have ever taken summer classes EVER), and the few friends I still have in Columbus are leaving me to go be adults.  I believe this will encourage me to be less antisocial next year!

-G


In Between Days

If I hadn’t mentioned it by now, I have a tendency to quote song titles.  Today is no exception: this one by The Cure sums up my life and the life of most b-school students.  As you may have figured out from the other blog posts, we (Fisher graduate students) just finished the school year.  Spring quarter ended differently for me than winter and fall: somehow, I managed to only have one final which was scheduled for Monday morning.  How Lucky Can You Get? (See? What did I tell you?  Streisand song from Funny Lady.)  Anyhow . . . I’ve been on summer break for a week and I can hardly wait to start my internship on Monday.  Having all this spare time seems strange (and rather boring).  Once again, I find myself in transition.  In my Fisher grad life, transitions are not easy but they certainly are plentiful . . . so I might as well dedicate a blog post to them!

Anxiety is normal for anyone facing transition.  We’d all like to expect the unexpected but that’s easier said than done.  Unsure of what the future will hold, we push forward with trepidation.  If you’re preparing to enter b-school, get used to the feeling.  Life becomes a series of transitions starting with the summer preceding school and lasting all the way through (and sometimes post) graduation.  As new “first years”, most of you will be switching gears from working all week to studying all week.  For those of us completing our first year, we’re adjusting to all sorts of things: assuming leadership roles in student activity groups, working with new team members, planning for fall quarter, figuring out where to live this summer, beginning new jobs, scheduling classes, ordering football tickets, and finding things to occupy the seemingly endless hours of time we suddenly have available.

This summer I’m fortunate enough to be staying in Columbus (making it much easier to move to a new apartment).  Internship-wise: I’ll be working three different assignments this summer; one is a Wheeler Internship sponsored by Fisher’s Center for Entrepreneurship.  I’m excited about the opportunity to work with a local business!  I’ll be spending 20 hours each week learning about online marketing and handling some of their web 2.0 communications.  As I learn more about web analytics, I’ll leverage my experience and Microsoft Office prowess to help tackle a few projects that have been on the company’s “to do” list.  During the other 20 hours each week, I’ll be working with a professor on a local consulting project, on campus, and at the Columbus Zoo.  If time allows near the end of the summer, I’ll begin my Fisher Board Fellows project with COSI.  Regardless, I’ll stay busy.  Since I’ll have my evenings free and my roommate will be in France, my inner bookworm can celebrate by reading a few books that aren’t mandatory.  Hooray!

I think I try to stay so busy because for me personally, change is hard and I don’t enjoy being in transition.  Although I’ve had my fair share for the past couple of years now, I don’t ever get totally used to it.  Staying busy = a coping mechanism (I keep my mind occupied).  By nature, I’m a planner and like to know what the future holds.  Since that’s impossible at this juncture, I intentionally choose to look at life as an adventure, knowing my journey will lead me somewhere new.  My advice to you: embrace change.  It’s one of the only certainties in life.

Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become. – Reinhold Niebuhr

One thing I assure you: time flies.  Assuming the cliche is valid, I must be having fun.  Today was graduation day at the Fisher College of Business.  Congratulations to Fisher’s graduating Class of 2011 MBAs!  Godspeed as you journey forth.  I expect great things to come . . . for each and every one of us.


The Training Wheels Are About to Come Off

In my last blog, I mentioned that the stars had aligned, my prayers were answered and my misadventure of an internship search was over. Yes, someone hired me. Yay!

Two weeks ago I began my co-op as a human resources intern for GE at their lamp plant in Circleville. For most of my classmates, Circleville equals one thing–if it means anything at all–Pumpkin Show. But for me, this is a return to the county where I grew up and the place where most of my family and in-laws still live. Even so, I’ve never worked in a factory before, so the experience is definitely interesting and new.

Thankfully, I’ve received some wonderful training from a graduating MLHR student who was the first to go through an HR co-op in Circleville. In many ways it feels as if she is handing over her baby to me, and the reputation of Fisher MLHR students. I can only hope I don’t let them all down. As she said good bye to the staff last week at a going-away/welcome-aboard reception, it was clear that they respected her work and friendship. I will feel blessed to receive such a warm send off when it’s time for me to flee the co-op nest.

In the meantime, though, I’m still finding my way. This week is my first week without my fellow Fisher friend by my side. In essence, it’s time to rip off the band-aid and dive into the deep end of HR. I’ve heard there may be tears and maybe some rough language. It’s a factory after all and sometimes the going gets rough. I just hope most of the tears won’t be coming from me. As I’ve already been told: There’s no crying in factory work. As for any rough language, well, I’ll just save that for the next staffing quiz.


Serendipity

When I opted to visit a local vodka distillery with a few of my MBA classmates, I knew I’d enjoy the experience (they included a free tasting) but I did not realize I would walk away re-energized and inspired.

I honestly believe there are times when planets align or when connections are made as if they were always meant to be.  This is exactly what I thought about as I stood in the distillery area of Middle West Spirits and listened to Brady and Ryan tell the story of their company and their vodka, OYO.  What happens when your significant other brings you along to one corporate event after the next?  In this case, an advertising exec and fourth generation distiller discover each other’s backgrounds and shared passions.  Voila!  A new company is born!

Brady summarized the essence of their company’s start: serendipity.  What a succinct way to capture the magic of the way things seemingly just fell into place!  Mind you, they did not get to where they are without a lot of work, plenty of obstacles, and a struggle here and there.  The inspiring part of the story is the way they handled each and every hurdle.  They addressed them and worked through them by recruiting experts to help.

Everything at Middle West is done with a focus on quality and achieving the best result.  Being different is good and they will tell you exactly why that is true.  Brady also shared that they “wanted to give their vodka a sense of place”.  Much thought was put into the logo, the name of the company, the name of the vodka, the company’s location, the partnerships sought, the distilling equipment purchased, the distilling process, and the ingredients used.  On top of it all, their operation focuses on sustainability.  In a word: impressive.

I couldn’t help myself – I began relating all this intentional detail back to the internship search and recruiting process we’re facing as first-year MBAs.  How interesting things would be for each of us if we were so focused and intentional while creating our own brand.  As I continue to hone my story, I will now incorporate some of the same concepts into my work (focus, different is good, have a sense of place, deal with obstacles, work with intention).  Seeing the world from a new point of view is energizing and gives me new hope as my personal search continues.

As I’ve mentioned before, Columbus is turning into a city for foodies.  It also cultivates and promotes an entrepreneurial spirit and the success of start-ups, local producers, and small business.  I am confident we will see more great things from Middle West Spirits in the future.  If we’re lucky, we (as Fisher MBAs) can partner with them on various business cases as they continue to grow and expand.  In my opinion, they prove there is great potential in ideas, innovation, and dreams.  I doubt I’ll be the only MBA to be inspired by their story.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

AND “The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.” – Ray Kroc (founder of McDonald’s)

NOTES: For a nice overview of the process information Ryan shared with the group, check out this article on Columbus Alive, John Schumacher’s blog post, or The Pegu Blog.  Each offers a great summary of additional information I learned on my visit.


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