One Team, One Goal – Reaching Out to Elon Alumni

By Katie Franck

Elon alumni can be an extremely valuable resource for as you look to expand your professional network or seek advice from someone who has “been through it all.”  However, it can be extremely tricky to figure out how to approach an alum… where do you find them and what do you say? LinkedIn is one of the best ways to connect with alumni.  When you form a connection with an alumni on LinkedIn, you can (and should) send them a message introducing yourself and asking if they would be willing to talk with you for about 5 to 10 minutes.  This is a good way to ask ask questions about their company or learn about their experience. Some Elon alumni have even designated themselves as “Elon Mentors”, which simply means they have chosen to be a resource for you and are ready and able to help.  

Communications alum Zach Bocian ‘17 said that the motto “one team, one goal” is “very applicable to life after college and more so in staying connected with alumni and present students.”  If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account or if you are unsure how to use it, this article can provide some excellent tips and guidelines to creating a noteworthy profile.  

So you’ve searched LinkedIn and found some alumni who you’d like to reach out to… now what?  Always start by introducing yourself and telling the person why you want to connect with them.  Just like with other social media platforms, if someone requests to follow you, you’re immediately going to look for the “Elon University” on their profile or some other factor you have in common before you follow them back.  A simple way to message someone may be,

“Hi Nicole!

I see that we both attend(ed) Elon University and that you currently work in PR.  I am a current student and PR is my intended field, I would love to connect with you to learn more about your experience. Thanks so much!

Katie Franck, Elon University Class of 2022”

If you have specific questions, use your initial connection to ask if they would be willing to answer them.  Additionally, this article has some great advice and templates for how to write an appropriate message to anyone you may want to connect with, alumni or not. 

When messaging alumni (or any professional) it is important to remember that they are busy and may not be checking their LinkedIn account on a regular basis.  Always be patient, and you can send a follow-up message. As always, professional language is expected and appreciated, and you should always keep in mind that they are taking time out of their day to help you.  While most Elon alumni (especially Elon Mentors) are excited and willing to talk with students, you should always thank them for their time and for any help they give you.

Good luck!

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Staying Organized: How to Make the Application Process Less Stressful

By Natalie Wright

Keep a Spreadsheet

When applying for internships, you will find yourself completing a handful of applications, communicating to a lot of new people, and setting/meeting a crazy amount of deadlines. This can all be hard to remember, if you don’t keep a record of it all. I recommend that you keep an Excel document or Google Sheet that can hold this information. You should keep track of the company name, application link, deadline for application, contact person, and additional  information such as notes from follow-up conversations. Here is an example:

natalie bp pic

By keeping a spreadsheet like this, you will be better organized and less stressful during the application process because all information will be in one designated location.

Keep a Running List of Skillsets

During the application process it is also important to keep a running list of your personal, unique skillsets. This will be helpful during interviews because future employers are interested in learning more about you, and they want to know what makes you different from other applicants. With a running list, you can always add to it, and it will make you more confident when stepping into an interview.

Balancing Mental Health While Interning

By Gabrielle Beamon

For some students, internships can be overwhelming, but there are ways to manage any internship stress.

Also, remember, your supervisor may have been an intern and is there for you every step of the way. The days can be long and filled with numerous responsibilities, and you’re going to get drained. Here are a few things I like to remember when my internship starts to get overwhelming:

  1. Don’t take work home.

You’re an intern, and most likely not being paid. No one is expecting you to bring work home, so don’t do it! Your time after work is exactly that, YOUR time. Watch a movie. Read a book. Go to the gym. You have the entire rest of your career to bring work home, so take these precious moments to do something for yourself.

  1. Ask for help.

You’re new, and you’re learning. Take in everything that this industry has to offer. If you don’t understand something or you’re feeling overwhelmed, ASK YOUR SUPERVISOR for help! They are in your corner and want you to succeed. It’s okay to ask for assistance.  Also, don’t be afraid to take notes. This ensures you stay on task and complete projects correctly.

  1. Talk to the other interns.

Chances are you aren’t alone in your experience. One of the best ways to boost morale is by talking to other people. If you are struggling, chances are another intern is, too. You’ll make a new friend and probably a really strong professional connection.

As someone who has interned in both New York and Los Angeles, it became overwhelming very quickly. Reaching out to others, asking for help and making time to explore allowed me to have the best experience as an intern.

Intern Abroad!

Living and studying abroad is an experience that many students pursue at least once during their time at Elon. But are you aware you can also intern while you are abroad?

In some cases, like the Elon in London program, students are automatically given the opportunity to register for internship credit and placed with a career-related organization for the semester.

In other cases, students have found ways to get a meaningful internship abroad by working with our office. Internships abroad offer a number of advantages to students. Adding international experience to your resume adds a unique element and potential employers will be impressed by your adaptability to a workplace in a different culture. In a society that is increasingly global, international experience will make you a more attractive applicant. By working closely with our office to gain an internship, you will be well on your way.

There are a few key factors to keep in mind as you begin the process to apply abroad. Simply working at any organization is not going to be as helpful as finding a reputable location, where you will gain valuable knowledge pertaining to your career goals and discipline of study. Also, we have a number of alumni who work for international organizations or live abroad who can become a great connection and resource.

Keep in mind that depending on when or how you are travelling, you will need to balance time with your internship course, other classes, travel and simply experiencing the country where you are living. Getting an internship is great, but we want to ensure it enhances your experience abroad.

Finally, contact the Isabella Cannon International Centre, even if you’re going to your native country to complete the study abroad application.There may also be different visa applications and safety concerns so your destination must first be approved.  Then, be prepared to work closely with the School of Communications Internship Office about meeting our internship requirements. Together, we will help you to create a unique study-abroad internship experience.

To get started visit the Isabella Cannon International Centre’s Intern Abroad Resources website and make an appointment with the internship office.

Can I complete an internship during the academic school year?

Many students come into our office asking this exact question, and the answer is YES!  Many communications students complete an internship during the academic school year, but once again the key is planning.  Before completing an internship during the academic school year, be sure to meet with your adviser and determine when you would have time in your schedule to complete an internship along with your other courses.

Some students choose to take a few classes at Elon and complete an internship for credit locally in Burlington, Greensboro or Raleigh.  Others choose to live at home or in another city while completing an internship during the summer or winter terms.  And occasionally, a student will plan to live in another city and complete an internship while taking the semester off.  In this case, they have planned this well in advance and will still graduate on time.  They also hope the internship will transition into a job.

Another consideration is tuition.  If you enroll for a summer term, then like other academic courses, you must pay for the internship course.  You will only pay additional tuition during other terms if you exceed the allowable credit hours.

To get more information about completing an internship during the academic school year, be sure to talk with your advisor and make an appointment with Mrs. Tonkins to begin your internship search today!

Make an appointment here: http://www.elon.edu/e-web/academics/communications/internships/

The importance of starting your internship search early

Although the idea of starting your search for an internship might be daunting, it is important to begin your search early and continue to search often. Frequently, first and second year students feel that they do not need to enter the internship office until they are a junior or senior; however, this is not the case!

It is important to visit the internship office early in your academic career to research internship opportunities and application requirements.  This way, you can find your dream internship at ELLE magazine or NBC News, for example; and over the next year or so, you can be build your resume and portfolio with experiences and work that will help you land your dream internship.  Strategy is key.

Some big internship opportunities may even request previous internships or campus media experience before applying.  By coming into the internship office early and often to research what opportunities are out there, you can be sure to be thoroughly prepared to land your dream internship once the application deadline arrives!

Make an appointment to come into the internship office and explore your options:  http://www.elon.edu/e-web/academics/communications/internships/

Handling multiple internship offers

If you find yourself having to decide between multiple internship offers, first of all, congratulations!  Next, take a deep breath; you are in an ideal situation where you can pick the position that is going to be best for you!

Whenever you receive an offer, especially if you know you will be hearing back from other companies soon, politely tell the employer you need a few days or a weekend to consider the position.  Employers are used to this.  According to the Elon Career Services website, “It is not advisable to make a decision immediately.  Find out when the organization needs you to respond to the offer. If this employer is your first choice, you may choose to request a day or two before your final decision.  If you have other interviews or offers pending, tactfully request more time.  You may say, for example, “I’m very excited about this position, but this is a big decision and I would like a few days to consider the offer.  May I have until (date) to make a decision?”  However, when you do this, be sure you respond to the employer by the agreed date. Never accept an internship, and then turn it down because another more appealing offer came later.  Companies frown on this, and it may impact you and the university later.

When debating between multiple offers, consider questions recommended by College-Career Builder:  “Is the internship for a company you like?  Can you see yourself working there full time?  Is it doing a job you would enjoy?  What skills will you build by working there?  How do these skills relate to your longer term career plans?”  Also, keep your gut instinct in mind.

After deciding which position will be the best opportunity for you, it is time to accept and decline your offers.  When rejecting a job offer, always keep the door open for future opportunities.   Though Company A may be your first choice now, it is possible that some day you will want to change jobs and may be interested in Company B.  Maintain a good relationship by tactfully turning down the offer from Company B. Graciously thank the person extending the offer, and let them know you are unable to accept their internship.  For example, you may have decided to attend graduate school, accept an offer in your hometown, or take another internship that provides needed income, etc.

Finally, it is time to accept your first-choice offer!  Be excited and professional when accepting the offer.  Although you may accept the offer over the telephone, it is important to follow up in writing and also request that the offer be sent to you in writing as well.  Thank the person extending the offer to you and show your sincere interest in joining their organization!

Again, give yourself a pat on the back for obtaining multiple internship offers- your hard work paid off!

Check out these useful links:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xge98c_fielding-internship-offers-what-do-i-do-if-i-get-multiple-internship-offersy_lifestyle

http://careernetwork.msu.edu/finding-an-internship/the-final-frontier/managing-multiple-offers