It was so interesting to Skype with Camila and Claudia Gonzalez and their parents. The family had been referred to the Internship Connection Program for Entrepreneurship by Babson College. The girls are twin sisters, coming from a private school in Guaynabo, P.R., who had been accepted to Babson as January freshman. “J-frosh” is the term that students often use.
Starting college during spring semester is quite common at many universities across the U.S. The reason behind this is that colleges would like to accept many more qualified students, but cannot accommodate them because of insufficient housing. Additional dorm rooms become available when juniors go abroad during their spring semester.
I have often worked with January freshman, establishing Boston internships for them for the fall semester. Not only can they enjoy an internship matched to their intended academic majors, but they are able to get a jump start on their peers, becoming familiar with the city, it’s transportation system, restaurants and cultural highlights.
The process begins: Housing
Once I knew that the girls wanted to live and work together, I starting researching housing for them that would be comfortable and close to transportation. Additionally, I wanted to find a mentor who would take a true personal interest in the girls. Coming to the U.S. to a new city at age 17, is not something to take lightly. As director of this program, I feel deeply that my role is not only to provide the best educational experience but to be protective of our students as well.
Placing students in our program is much more complicated than many people realize. I must consider their career interests, their safety, their mode of transportation, their schedules, etc. For the girls and their parents, I emailed photos from several types of housing options. They chose an upscale, short-term stay hotel in Copley Square. It would be just a quick subway ride for them to the Boston Waterfront where over 150 start-up companies would likely be the most interesting and exciting internship sites for the girls.
Choosing the best company and mentor
During my research and drawing from our program’s large network of business connections, I focused on the girls’ interest in both entrepreneurship and fashion. In the past, I’ve placed many students at MassChallenge, an annual global accelerator program and startup competition that provides free office space for finalists and organizes training and networking events. It’s a competetion that awards 1 million dollars to finalist companies selected from 1,250 applications world-wide.
One company at the MassChallenge business incubator really stood out to me. Melanie Berger is the founder and CEO of Mariwear, a new and innovative concept in women’s loungewear. She is a dynamic businesswoman who is also a mom. In our conversations, I learned that she had lived abroad and grasped how important her role would be as mentor for Camilla and Claudia. While discussing the kinds of tasks that she would have for them in her fashion start-up, I could see that they would be involved in every level of her business. We were both excited for the girls’ arrival.
The internship proceeds
As the fall progressed, Camilla and Claudia sent me journals detailing their experiences and expressed how thrilled they were with their mentor and their fashion internships. As a former professor of education, I know how crucial it is for students to take a step back to reflect upon their experiences. Therefore, the students are asked to send me several journals that I have designed, with questions that are meant to encourage reflection.
An excerpt from Camilla’s journal
What has been the best part of your internship?
The best part of the internship has been working with Melanie. She has been a great mentor and example because not only has she helped me grow as a future entrepreneur, but also she has helped me understand the importance of fighting for your goals even though there will be a lot of ups and downs.
She has really made us feel part of not only Mariwear, but also the MassChallenge community by introducing us to the other companies that we were interested in, or in some way, contribute to our future. I feel that every moment in MassChallenge has been a positive, since I am constantly meeting new people, making suggestions, asking questions, and learning something new.
A note from the CEO Melanie
It’s been such a pleasure for me to get to know Camilla and Claudia and Melanie, their mentor, feels the same way. She recently wrote:
Hope all is well. I have to say, I am seriously sad that the girls are gone.
It was beyond an amazing experience for all of us. They were wonderful on so many levels. I can’t imagine having anyone else who can fill their shoes.
We wish Camilla and Claudia all the best as they start their freshman semester this January at Babson College!
Have you ever wondered how the aspiring entrepreneurs on Shark Tank develop business pitches to investors?
Would you like to catch a glimpse of how guys like Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook?
There are over 450 companies in Kendall Square, Cambridge, over 1,00 startups in the Boston Innovation District on the Boston waterfront and over 900 in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. You too, can get involved in this exciting way of life.
Some of our most fascinating Boston internships for the last 8 years have been at some of these companies. Here are some of the things you might learn:
– What does it take to come up with a business idea?
– What goes into an effective pitch?
– Who funds startup companies?
– Which are some of the most successful startups in Boston?
– Where are some of the hundreds of networking events (called meetups by techies) in Boston and Cambridge?
– What is a co-working space?
– What are the more well-known business incubators in Boston?
– What does each day look like at a startup?
– What are some of the roles individuals play at these companies?
Whether you are a high school or college student, our business mentors will give you a rarified glimpse into this exceptional community of entrepreneurs:
A no-brainer you say? Well let’s see college students. Maybe you can do both. It takes quite a bit of planning, but here’s how our current students are making it happen. We started taking calls and emails beginning in November, getting to know all of you from Emory, Vanderbilt, Boston University and even Seoul, South Korea.
You sent us your resumes- some great, some not so great. We started from scratch for some of you and polished them up for others. Next we sent them out to our contacts for summer internships in Boston, New York City, Austin and set up interviews for you in March. It’s amazing to me the far flung places you go for Spring break, but at least for those of you who were nice enough to squeeze in a few days to come back home to visit your parents (or high school buddies), you’ll know that you’ve got a jump start on your internship search.
Don’t forget to pack that suntan lotion!
Perhaps you’ve completed a summer internship and are easing back into the school year. You’re suddenly struck with the realization that you haven’t yet asked for a letter of recommendation from the organization you interned with. A letter is key—you’ll need it for college or job applications. It’s crucial “proof” of your experience reinforcing your resume.
It’s not too late to solicit that letter of recommendation. Follow these five easy steps to gracefully and effectively land a well-crafted one.
How to Get a Letter of Recommendation:
(1) Acknowledge how busy your supervisor is. The last image you want to project is one of self-absorbed entitlement; this person is taking time out of his or her busy day to do you an important favor, so acknowledge that generosity. At the same time, somebody taking on interns is obligated to provide letters of recommendation, so don’t be bashful about your request.
In short, be assertive—but not presumptuous.
(2) Offer options. Make it easy for the person to get the letter into your hands. If you’re still interning, ask for it well in advance so you can carry it home on your last day—about as easy for all involved as can be. Include your mailing address in your request no matter what to be safe.
(3) Ensure the letter of recommendation looks legitimate: Request that your supervisor print it on company letterhead. Also, ask that the letter be addressed “To Whom It May Concern:” so that it’s applicable in whatever situation you need it—applying for schools, jobs, or internships.
(4) Make sure academic interests are emphasized. You don’t want to suggest you were simply running around making copies as an intern, but instead forging practical workplace and problem-solving skills. Ask your supervisor to highlight the relevance of your internship duties to academic interests.
(5) Ask for a story. Encourage your supervisor to incorporate anecdotes that demonstrate your personality and abilities. This is partly to make the letter enjoyable to read; it’s also about humanizing yourself. Your letter should demonstrate you’re a real person with unique attributes—someone really worth hiring or accepting into a program.
Follow these straightforward tips, and you can feel more confident that a genuine, encouraging letter of recommendation is in the hands of people you’re trying to impress.
Photo credit: losmininos
Pricey summer programs raise fairness questions
College officials say no, but critics wonder whether specialized experiences give some wealthy students a leg up By Lisa Kocian Globe Staff
“Explore.” “Sail.” “Volunteer.” “Dream.”
Such programs have multiplied in recent years, giving students who can afford them amazing new opportunities – and perhaps additional pressures during what could be a season for lazy days at the beach and minimum-wage jobs.
But, as the college-admissions process becomes ever more competitive, another question about such programs emerges. Alongside high-priced application coaches and test-prep services, does a summer experience that costs anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 represent yet another way that wealthier students can gain an edge over their lower-income peers?
“If colleges consider the sorts of summer experiences that only some people can afford to pay for, then they are effectively privileging the already privileged,” said Richard Kahlenberg, senior fellow with the Century Foundation, a nonprofit research institution headquartered in New York City.
Kahlenberg authored a 2004 study that found at the 146 most selective colleges, 3 percent of students came from the poorest quarter of the population, while 74 percent came from the richest quarter. He said it’s not that admissions officers are biased against low-income students, but that they are not really giving a leg up to students who work full time over the summer to help their family.
College admissions officers say they certainly have to weigh an applicant’s internships or farflung adventures. But a student can have an extraordinary experience in variety of ways, not all of which cost money, they note.
Bill Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard University, said high-priced internships can be “wonderful experiences,” but “in and of themselves, they will not give a student an advantage in the admissions process because the playing field is not level. The substantial majority of high school students cannot afford to do these things.
“I think there are many people now who understand there are plenty of activities, for example, working a full-time job in the summer or volunteer activities, that don’t have to be in Tanzania – they can be right down the street.”
During last month’s Teen Summer Program Expo at Newton South, 60 companies were offering summertime experiences, compared with 27 companies three years ago, according to Abby Shapiro, president and owner of CampSource, which organized the annual event. Over that time, the number of countries and community-service programs represented has also jumped dramatically, she said, and many programs offer financial aid. One of the newer trends is companies finding unpaid internships for a fee.
Two summers ago, Newton resident Amanda Korff obtained a month long position through the Internship Connection, a Newton-based company that charges $2,000 to place high school students.
Korff, who went to the Rivers School in Weston and is now a 19-year-old freshman at New York University, knew she wanted to major in communications, so she was placed with NewTV, Newton’s public-access television station.
She said she primarily wanted to see whether she liked broadcasting, but, yes, she said, it also was nice to get a good letter of recommendation for her college applications.
“The internship was really great. I was worried I wasn’t going to get a lot of hands-on experience.” But since the station’s operation is so small, Korff said, “I was actually able to work a lot.”
And that’s the point, according to Dr. Carole Jabbawy, founder and director of the Internship Connection, who has placed high school students in architecture, finance, and medical-research positions. “Nobody’s going to get coffee in my program,” she said. “I want to make sure it’s a real educational experience.”
Also, Jabbawy said, she is sensitive to the fact that not every family can afford such internships, so she adjusts her fee when necessary and gives out one free placement each year to a student who otherwise would not be able to afford it.
Robert Korff, Amanda’s father, said he didn’t feel as if the internship was necessarily for his daughter’s college applications, but was more to help her explore a field in which she was interested. And it was well worth it, he said.
“It’s hard to put a price on something like that when you’re talking about your kids.”
Jeffrey Herscott, an 18-year-old senior at Newton South, said he wasn’t thinking about college applications when he decided to do a language-immersion program in Spain last summer. He said he wanted to do it for himself.
He also was concerned about his contribution to the trip, which cost him and his parents $3,200, so he took a job busing tables at a Bertucci’s restaurant. Working helps build character, he said.
“That’s something I’ve always been keen on,” Herscott said.
Gil Villanueva, dean of admissions at Brandeis University in Waltham, said that travel abroad used to be impressive but is now “commonplace.” His school looks for students who – whether they travel or not – show a desire to contribute to society, he said.
He casts a careful eye on an application if a student has traveled across the globe but is not active in his or her community, Villanueva said.
“While I think that’s exciting in terms of what that person might add to the campus, it might not be nearly as much as the individual who committed hours and hours in working for their local chapter of Habitat for Humanity or worked on their Eagle Scout project to enhance a park.”
Villanueva said he encourages families to take advantage of free information on collegeboard.com and other websites to plan an internship or other experience.
There are groups working to close the gap between the haves and have-nots in college admissions. The American Council on Education created knowhow2go.org to help low-income students prepare for college.
Harvard tells students to follow their hearts and not to see every opportunity as a requirement, according to its admissions dean, Fitzsimmons, who co-wrote a paper titled, “Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation.”
Sometimes the most worthwhile summer experiences are not about exotic locales, but looking inside to find your own values, he said. “One of those experiences might be to catch one’s breath during the summer and recharge the batteries.”
Tips for Teens Seeking Last-Minute Jobs, Summer Activities
By Myrna Beth Haskell
Your teen is sprawled on the couch with a bag of chips and the TV channel set to MTV. Do you envision yourself being frustrated by your teen’s lack of activity all summer? Relaxation after a stressful and frenzied school year is probably much needed but, after a few days of rest, your teen should think about taking advantage of his free time and expanding his horizons.
Jobs are scarce these days, and many internship opportunities are filled in late winter. However, it’s not too late for your teen to plan a constructive summer.
Gaining experience, knowledge
When teenagers use their free time to expand their knowledge by volunteering, working or taking classes, college admissions officers and future employers take notice.
Carole Jabbawy, Ed.D., founder and director of Internship Connection in Newton, Mass., says, “An internship or volunteer experience is the first step to building a resume. Teens gain career exposure, which will be very helpful in sorting out a college major.”
Teens who plan to seek employment right after high school will also reap benefits from experience including:
* Building a resume
* Exploring interests
* Making “connections” in a specific industry
* Setting oneself apart from the crowd
Last-minute job opportunities
Teens should seek help from their school’s guidance office. Small businesses, hospitals, churches and nursing homes are always looking for extra help and usually welcome teen applicants. For last-minute opportunities, it’s best to canvas your neighborhood and ask about positions in person.
“While June may be too late for some internships, nonprofits are still quite busy in June and July, Jabbasy says. “Late spring is a busy time for fundraising events and extra hands are always welcome.”
Finding a paying job for the summer at this late date might be difficult; however, motivated teens can still find openings. Full-time employees often have summer vacation plans, so part-time positions become available.
“Business owners tell me that they don’t have enough time in the day to keep up with social networking,” Jabbawy explains. “They would love a teen to work on a project promoting their business through Facebook, blogging or Twitter.”
Summer college courses
Summer classes are great for teens who want to improve their academic resume. Jim Sirianni, assistant dean and director of Summer College at Stanford University, explains, “Very often universities will allow prospective students to enroll in summer courses right up until the first day of class. Students should check with multiple institutions in their area to see when summer classes begin, as some start weeks later than others. Large institutions tend to have a summer session office that oversees summer course offerings while the registrar’s office is a good starting point for inquiries at smaller colleges.”
Many colleges offer competitive scholars programs, academic camps or traditional classes that high school students can take in the summer. It’s imperative that students check to see if there is a minimum age, a required placement test, or documents their high school needs to submit before they apply.
Volunteering makes a difference
Volunteers are rarely turned away, especially in a down economy. Plus, teens can feel good about making a difference. “It’s wonderfully satisfying to volunteer for an organization that you care about,” Jabbawy says.
Teens should search for positions that will help guide them toward their long-term goals. For example, aspiring veterinarians could look for a position at an animal shelter. “An internship or volunteer experience begins the process of creating a professional network and can lead to a paid position in the future,” Jabbawy says.
Encourage your teen to ask questions and learn as much as she can while volunteering. Be sure your teen understands that showing up on time and being dependable is important even though she is not getting paid.
Places to look for volunteer opportunities:
* Hospitals and medical clinics
* Homeless shelters
* Animal shelters
* Youth centers/camps
It’s never too late to start your own business. Possible entrepreneurial ventures include mowing lawns, painting houses, caring for pets while people are on vacation, fixing neighbors’ computers or cooking for the elderly. Teens can distribute fliers in convenient neighborhoods to get the word out.
Still stumped for ideas? Try these websites: www.dosomething.org and www.volunteermatch.org.
Myrna Beth Haskell is a feature writer and columnist specializing in parenting issues and child and adolescent development. She is the mother of two teenagers.
TIPS AND TALES FROM OTHER PARENTS
“Animal shelters need loving hands and warm laps.” – Melbra King, Shell Beach, Calif.
“Most churches run summer programs for kids. Our church has a vacation Bible school and we’re always looking for teen members to help, even if it’s last minute.” – Beth Ackerman, Staatsburg, N.Y.
Share your ideas on an upcoming topic
Your teen didn’t make the varsity team – alternatives to keep him or her playing?
After a long application season, you’ve finally landed the perfect internship. You’ll gain valuable experience in your field, meet tons of potential mentors, and walk away with the ideal listing on your resume. Great, right? Not so fast… It’s unpaid. Your summer may look like it’s all nailed down, but it can be difficult or even impossible to support yourself without a steady income. Even if you can find a way to support yourself over the summer, what happens when you get back to school in the fall and realize your bank account is running low? You might want to consider picking up a part-time summer job. A paid summer job ensures you’ll still have money to support, save, and spend, but it can be tough to balance work with an unpaid internship.
Find an Internship You Love
Dr. Carole Jabbawy, founder of Internship Connection, a company that matches high school and college students with internships, emphasizes the importance of finding an internship you love. “You will enjoy your summer if you carefully research the type of place that you think would be interesting. If the work is meaningful and you mesh with the company’s vibe, there’s nothing more exciting than getting a jumpstart on your career,” she says.
Sometimes, taking an unpaid internship offer over a paid internship or job offer can work in your favor. If the opportunity will help you get ahead in your career, it’s in your best interest to make it work, even if that means turning down a less beneficial paid internship or taking on a paid job on nights and weekends to make money on the side.
Michelle King, a recent grad of Emerson College, agrees. Last summer, she interned at Seventeen and worked retail. “Be aware that it’s going to be a struggle to balance both and use that as motivation for finding a company that you’re truly passionate about, not just one that will boost your resume,” she says. “Balancing an internship and a job last summer was difficult at times, but I never once regretted it because I loved Seventeen so much.” A jam-packed summer schedule won’t feel so intimidating if you’re excited about what you’re doing every day.
It’s one thing to turn down an internship that won’t teach you much or add anything substantial to your resume; it’s something else entirely to turn down a dream offer because it’s unpaid. Jabbawy says, “If you get an offer for a great internship, try to make it work. Look for babysitting or waitressing jobs with evening and weekend hours.”
Ask around your neighborhood and talk to family friends to find babysitting jobs. Can’t find any families with young kids? Create a profile on Sittercity.com, a free site that helps families find babysitters and vice versa.
If you’re interested in waitressing or bartending, go to each restaurant or bar as soon as you can and inquire about job opportunities with the manager. Depending on their application process, they may ask you to fill out an application or come in for an interview. These positions are competitive, so your best bet is to apply to as many places as possible until you find an opening.
Tutoring is a fantastic way to make money on the side, especially since you can set your own hours. Do you have an eagle eye for editing papers? Can you still remember how to solve SAT math problems? Turn to Facebook to publicize your services as an academic or SAT tutor. You’re bound to catch the attention of younger friends or siblings’ friends who are in need of a little extra help. You can also contact your high school guidance counselor and ask to be put in touch with students in need of assistance.
If you love to be active, contact your town’s youth sports organizations about coaching a sports team in your spare time. Coaching kids is a rewarding, upbeat job, which means it’ll be easy to keep up your spirits while maintaining a busy schedule.
Note that retail jobs or camp counselor positions tend to have less flexible hours, so those might not be as ideal to balance with an internship.
Nail Down a Schedule You Can Handle
If at all possible, work with both employers to find a schedule that won’t drive you crazy. Whether that means spending mornings at your internship and afternoons at your job, or Mondays through Wednesdays at your internship and Thursdays through Saturdays at your job, or another combination, your best bet for staying sane is to find a schedule you can cope with. For example, if you’re an early bird but plan on waitressing on the side for tips, plan to pick up extra hours on weekends — not late night shifts.
When you’re exhausted and worn out, you won’t be able to perform your best at either job. After all the effort you’re pouring into this summer, you’ll definitely deserve a recommendation letter — but only if you’re able to stay alert, engaged, and on top of your work! Avoid slacking on the job by sticking to a schedule that allows you to get enough rest… and, yes, that might mean taking it easy on Saturday nights from time to time.
Explain the Situation to Your Friends
Between interning and working, there’s only so much room left over for the three S’s: socializing, sleeping and sanity.
Two summers ago, Kali Grant, an alum of Ohio State, worked at a coffee shop in the mornings and interned at the Salvation Army in the afternoons. “It was hard to make time for a social life,” she explains. “I’d often have to be at the coffee shop at around 5:30 a.m., and wouldn’t get home from my internship until around 5:00 p.m., so I was usually too exhausted to do anything with friends in the evening! When you only have three hours between last call and when you have to get up in the morning, it’s a lose-lose situation—you’re either completely exhausted at work the next day or you feel like you’re missing out on the fun.”
Before your schedule gets too booked, squeeze in time to explain to friends what your summer is going to look like. Let them know that you’re not planning on blowing them off, but your schedule is hectic and might not allow for as much free time as you had hoped for. Your friends will understand—and they might even be jealous of your rock star time management skills and career savvy!
Bring Up Vacation Time ASAP
Because you have two employers to report to (and two schedules to juggle), it’s doubly important to bring up any days you’re planning on taking off as soon as possible. The earlier you can clear vacation time, the better — don’t get stuck finding out on July 3rd that one or both of your employers isn’t cool with you taking off July 4th.
Check in With Yourself
It’s one thing to be busy. It’s another thing entirely to be stressed around the clock, cancel on girls’ night for the third time in a row, and feel miserable at the prospect of another day of juggling your two positions. Check in with yourself on a regular basis throughout the summer to evaluate if you’re starting to feel burnt out.
Rather than letting your work (not to mention your mental state!) suffer, speak up. Talk to your supervisor at your internship, job, or both. Can you scale back your hours? Switch shifts with someone else? Take a day off? Work with your supervisor to figure out the best course of action for all involved. If the problem runs deeper, as in a serious conflict with your fellow interns or employees or you’re not happy with the atmosphere, it might be in your best interest to quit. There’s no shame in having piled too much on your plate, and you’ll be much happier if you’re honest with yourself and your boss.
Search for Scholarships and Stipends
A part-time job isn’t the only way to make money while interning. Some schools offer scholarships or stipends to allow unpaid interns to focus solely on their internship without the added burden of a job. Stop by your school’s career center to see if you’re eligible for any internship-related financial aid.
Ask your internship supervisor or your company’s Human Resources department if there’s any way for interns to receive a stipend. While this opportunity tends to only be available at larger companies with established resources, it’s always worth a shot to ask.
If you’re interning at a magazine, apply for Ed 2010’s Trust Fund, a $1,000 stipend to help cover the costs of living and interning in New York City! The application for summer internships is May 30.
Commit to an Awesome Summer
You might not have a ton of time to hang out by the pool, but your professionally-oriented summer can still totally rock. Pick one goal — whether it’s finally taking that mini-road trip you and your BFFs have been planning for years, or finishing the Hunger Games series — completely unrelated to your job or internship that makes your heart sing. When your busy schedule is stressing you out, take a breather by mapping out your route or reading another chapter. Remember, it’s still summer vacation — enjoy it!
Looking ahead at a fully scheduled summer can be intimidating, but if you plan ahead and schedule in some fun, it’ll fly by in no time. When you return to school in the fall, you’ll be thankful for all you learned at your internship and the extra cash in your bank account!
Stop by and say hello at the following Summer Opportunity Fairs for Teens. We love speaking to families about our internship program!
-Dr. Carole Jabbawy Founder and Director www.internshipconnection.com
Ethan, pictured on the right with his mentor, was a Dean’s list Economics major with a minor in Computer Science at Vanderbuilt University. Ethan already had 2 finance internships under his belt, but this time he was looking for a summer experience where he could role up his sleeves and get involved in all aspects of a startup. We matched him to Ted, an incredibly personable mentor and Director of Sales at Privy.
The following are Ethan’s responses to our Internship Connection Journal questions:
List the kinds of things you’ve been doing at work.
So far my experience have been great! I’ve had great exposure. Ted has been very helpful and assigned me to a wide variety of tasks, letting me learn new things. I’ve been doing lots of work with Excel spreadsheets, Salesforce and LinkedIn. For example, I created a spreadsheet outlining the common traits and trends between all of the successful sales deal that Ted has made in order to identify future customers.
What’s been the best part of your internship?
I sat in on a staff meeting that’s held twice a year that they call the Town Hall. All the employees discuss what has been happening this year and changes going forward.
We look forward to following Ethan’s career, knowing that this internship continued his professional growth.