About College

Mahima’s Pre-College Internship at the Harvard Innovation Lab

Mahima at the Harvard Innovation Lab

Many parents ask us how we establish internships, considering it’s especially difficult to do for high school students. It really requires extensive research, visiting work sites and creating relationships, which we’ve been doing over the last 15 years. Pictured this past summer at the iLab is Mahima, a sophomore at a public high school that is ranked #2 in MA.

 

Dr. Jabbawy visiting the iLab

We Create Relationships in the Workplace

During the school year, especially in the fall, we visit with potential mentors and workplaces in order to identify the best career match for our students’ interests. We look for mentors who can assign specific tasks and projects for each student to work on. Many mentors have been interns themselves at some point in their career and are happy to mentor a student with shared interests.

After Dr. Jabbawy attended a startup pitch at the iLab in order to identify potential mentors for summer internships, we met a very personable CEO who was very open to the idea of hosting an intern.

Sean Eldrige, CEO of Gain Life

Sean Eldridge: Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer of Gain Life

With an MBA from Harvard Business School, Sean spent his 15-year career in the health behavior change space at Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Weight Watchers. He co-founded Gain Life that provides solutions in the employer wellness market.

In Mahima’s letter of recommendation, Sean wrote:

“Mahima worked for our Harvard Innovation Labs startup, Gain Life, during the 2019 summer. While reporting to me, Gain Life’s CEO, Mahima led a variety of projects where she:

  • Researched and synthesized state-specific insurance regulations
  • Edited privacy and terms and conditions documents for a new product
  • Sourced and conducted consumer research interviews
  • Found and reported bugs in native and web-based applications
  • Built a research presentation for a large, blue chip, company

My team and I found Mahima to be friendly, diligent, and capable of delivering quality work with little direction. Mahima is mature beyond her years. I’d gladly offer her another position with our company at a later date. I happily recommend Mahima without hesitation.”

Applying to MIT? Better not list more than four activities.

 

Thank you MIT. How refreshing!

In our school-to-career program, we have seen stressed out high school sophomores show us resume drafts that are 3 pages long. We ask ourselves, what is driving this insanity? Is it worried parents or the students themselves?

More, more, more is not the answer. Who are you? What are you passionate about? These are the questions we ask students when we meet them.

Here is what MIT says…

Please use our form, not a resume, to list your activities. There is only enough space to list four things—please choose the four that mean the most to you and tell us a bit about them. This will tell us more about you than any “laundry list” of everything you’ve ever done in high school.

Finally, one of the better articles by the National Educational Association on the worsening dilemma of anxiety in teens:

http://neatoday.org/2018/03/28/the-epidemic-of-student-anxiety/

 

Test Drive Your Career With A Fall Internship in Boston

Are you a recent high school graduate or college student seeking some real-world career experience? Or are you taking some time off to explore new opportunities through a Gap Year?

You may already be aware that an internship is a fantastic choice for those purposes. But perhaps you associate such an option exclusively with summer.

The fall, however, can actually be the ideal time to complete an internship—and the highly trained team here at Internship Connection is here to help you do so.

The Benefits of an Internship

An internship offers an unparalleled opportunity to advance your academic and professional future. It’s a way to test drive your career: to sample the waters of an industry and see how it appeals to you.

You can fantasize about one job or another, but you can’t know what it’s really like without diving in. As an intern, you can try a job on for size and start mapping out a nuts-and-bolts career strategy.

It’s rewarding whether you’ve got a narrowed-down field of interest or not. Perhaps you’re drawn to the healthcare industry, but also harbor an abiding passion for politics. Internships shed light on the day-to-day jobs available in those fields, and thus help steer you toward one or another.

On the other hand, maybe you’ve got your heart set on a career in environmental work, but don’t know exactly in what capacity. Non-profit group? State management agency? Interning helps you navigate to a position best suited to your inclinations.

Let’s not forget that internships can lead directly to paid jobs: Think of them as auditions!

Fall Internships

What are the benefits of a fall internship? For one thing, a position tends to be easier to land: You’ll have less competition than in the summer crunch, when out-of-town students can compete directly with Boston-area locals.

Furthermore, most companies tend to take on fewer interns in the autumn. This means fall interns can cultivate deeper relationships with their workplace environment and colleagues as well as tackle more tasks, thus broadening their skill sets.

Internship Connection Works With You

Internship Connection is dedicated to connecting students and recent grads with internship positions and helping them succeed there. We’ll help you focus your goals, design your resume, and prep for interviews; we’ll also be there throughout your internship as guiding support.

Contact us today and test drive your career with a fall internship!   https://internshipconnection.com/

Photo credit: City of Boston Archives

Building Your College Application Story With An Internship

When we meet with high school sophomores and juniors, applying to college is often at the forefront of their minds as well as the angst of their parents. While their previous experiences may seem a bit disjointed to them, we are able to help them find the unique “thread of interest” that runs through their high school years.

The idea for us, is to establish an internship that directly relates to their academic interests. On their college applications, students are able to show that they are pursuing their passions and talents, not only within the school day, but also in a much deeper way. This becomes their story on their applications and college interviews.

Setting yourself apart from other students

Taking this idea one step further, the following is an example of one student’s college essay about nanotechnology. Not only does he write about his interest in this particular field of science, he is able to talk about the in-depth experience he had through the internship we established for him in high school.

Ben followed our suggestions about “Telling his Story” in a creative way.

As a side note, he was accepted to both Cornell and Columbia for engineering. Today, years later, he is the founder of a company related to technology.

Many Colleges require a personal essay plus an Academic Interest Essay. The following is Ben’s Cornell essay relating to his internship:

-Describe your intellectual interests, their evolution, and what makes them exciting to you.

A Path to Discovery

After slipping into a white coat, I insert my hands into tight latex gloves, carefully covering my hair with a cap made of thin, crinkly paper. I slide open the heavy rubber curtains, stepping into the clean room, enveloped by dust-collecting Styrofoam and silence. Facing me are two computers and a state of the art, half million-dollar Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), powerful enough to see anything a few billionths of a meter in size. For the next six hours, I will work alone in this room, etching off misaligned carbon nanotubes through wafer-scale electron beam lithography using SEM to define high-resolution features on test chips.

Why am I doing this on a beautiful summer day? Imagine computers that boot up instantaneously, cell phones with enough memory to run full-motion video and music clips for days. Or picture a trillion bits of data stored on a chip the size of a postage stamp. These are some of the potentially radical implications of technology being developed at Nantero, the place of my summer internship. I hope in this generation to contribute to the development of these exciting new discoveries in the interrelated fields of engineering, nanoscience and biology.

-Consider the academic programs in the school/college you indicated on page one. How will you utilize them to further explore your intended major or field of interest (or general academic interests if you’re undecided)?

Cornell’s reputation for interdisciplinary research and advanced approaches in nanotechnology are very exciting to me. The Duffield Hall facility and collaborative partnerships within programs is exactly the type of academic setting that is so appealing to me. The Center for Nanoscale systems and ongoing research in carbon-based nanoelectronics and silicon nanoelectronics is are of particular interest and relate to my separate summer internships working with printed circuit boards as well as carbon nanotubes. Also, the opportunity for undergraduate research at Cornell is very important to me.

I am seeking a broad-based and well-rounded education and Cornell’s strengths in Liberal Arts combined with excellence in science and engineering would provide the perfect match for my academic interests.

Spring Break in Cancun vs. Interviewing for your Summer Internship

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!

5 Simple Steps To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation

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

Should you Include High School Activities on your College Resume?

Continuing our series on resume writing, college students often ask us if they should include their high school experiences on a college resume.

Staff members at college career centers will often tell students that once in college, you should never list high school activities on a resume. However, from our perspective, most college freshman and even sophomores really don’t have enough college experiences that would reveal enough to a potential employer.

Plus, students should really be focusing on academics for the first year! Therefore, we suggest a combination resume that lists college activities first and relevant high school activities second. As the student gains more experience each year, high school activities can be pared down or eliminated.

 

6 Tips When Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

SAMPLE LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION FROM OUR WORKPLACE MENTORS

Colleges are interested in students who seek out experiences related to their academic interests and talents. Most colleges accept up to three letters of recommendation- from a teacher, guidance counselor and one additional letter from another adult such as a coach. Including a letter from a workplace mentor shows that the student has sought out this type of experience and has excelled.

In our school-to-career program, we help students as they ask their mentors for these letters. Whether on a job or internship, asking for a letter of recommendation is one of the most stressful, but important tasks. Students in our program tell us that they use their letters for many years to come, as they apply for jobs and internships in college.

Asking for a Letter of Recommendation….Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Ask your immediate supervisor, the person who you are working directly under.

2. Don’t wait until the end of your internship. Two weeks before your end date would give your mentor enough time.

3. Ask if you could possibly get the letter on your last day but have a stamped, self-addressed envelope ready to give them in case they need more time.

4. Hand them a written request. This will make it much easier for your mentor.

Your written request should look something like this

I have learned so much working here. If possible, I would appreciate a letter of recommendation on your company letterhead for my files. I will be using this letter for college and work applications.

My email is:
My mailing address is:

I would appreciate a hard, signed copy as well as a digital signed copy.

It should be addressed as: To Whom It may Concern

Since colleges are particularly interested in my academic interests, I have described them below. If possible, I wondered if you might mention them and how they related to the internship.

 My academic interests are:

I have also bulleted a list of tasks and activities that I participated in on this job:

Thank you for taking the time to mentor me on my internship.

-Your name

5. Don’t pester your mentor if you haven’t received the letter. Wait 1 month and only ask them one more time.

6. After you receive your letter of recommendation, send a hand-written thank you note.

 

 

Reviewing a College Application in Just 8 Minutes?

It was rather shocking to read recently in the Wall Street Journal, that admissions officers at approximately 30 elite colleges read applications in eight minutes!

Because so many more students are submitting applications, the workload for individual readers has become oppressive. Instead, staffers now divvy up individual applications:

“One person might review transcripts, test scores and counselor recommendations, while the other handles extracurricular activities and essays.
Continue reading “Reviewing a College Application in Just 8 Minutes?”

Uncovering Your College Sophomore’s Future Career

What if my college sophomore has no idea what type of career to pursue?

This is a question we hear from both parents of college and high school students. In terms of career advice, when we meet with students, we do a very thorough intake of their interests, experiences and what they are passionate about. Some students can tell us right away about their career interests while others have no idea.  Our specialty is extracting enough information to be able to pose suggestions about the types of careers that might pique their interest as well as the internship placements that we establish, relating to those careers. The following are two examples of students and what we take into consideration as we connect them to internships.

Alison is a Psychology Major who has always loved Fashion

Online marketing is the way to go these days in just about any business and who better to snag marketing positions, than a young person who uses Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. The term “Fashion Tech” describes what’s happening these days in the fashion industry. Almost all businesses need young people to do their social networking. A psych major will be able to apply her classroom studies to approach the idea of how consumers think and act. By experiencing an internship at an online fashion retailer she will be able to observe all the different marketing channels that companies utilize. Over the last 10 years, we have placed students in “Lifestyle” careers that include not only fashion, but Public Relations, Interior Design, Event Planning and more.

Jonathan is studying Political Science and Chinese

Often students have more than one interest. Recently, we met with a political science major who had a minor in Chinese. At this point, he was simply pursuing subjects that he was interested in but really had no idea about what career path to pursue. So we reached out to a Massachusetts State Senator who has a majority of Chinese speaking constituents. Now this young man will be able to intern at the State House, utilize his fluency in Chinese and observe the day-to-day workings of the state legislature. Furthermore, he will be under the supervision of a legislative aide, and by observing what is involved in that position, could potentially lead to a job after graduation.

Best advice: Nurture your child’s interests

Help them find out what they truly enjoy, let them run with it and finally, encourage them to gain as much early exposure to the workplace.

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