HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR INTERNSHIP

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR INTERNSHIP

GUEST BLOG by LAUREN McNAMARA

If you are lucky enough to have an internship, you will understand how much of a privilege it is to learn from somebody with extensive experience and knowledge about the industry. Ultimately internships give you a leg up into your first job in a fiercely competitive market and many of those skills will stay with you for life. The Independent reported that 58% of employers now value work experience over a student’s academic achievements, so internships are invaluable on your CV.

Around 60% of graduates end up employed by the company that they intern for, meaning positions are often highly competitive. Certain internships can have thousands of applications, so it is especially important to separate yourself from the crowd. Heading into an internship with the right, motivated attitude could be the difference between you flourishing or failing at the first hurdle. Here are some simple pieces of advice to ensure you are gaining as much from it as you can:-

  1. Be a sponge: Whilst you’re working, make sure you become a sponge. Absorb every piece of information that is given to you, but don’t forget to ask lots of questions as and when is appropriate.
  2. Be inquisitive: Find out more about your new boss, and how they got to where they are. After all, that is likely to be your long-term goal. Learn everything about the industry from them that you can, whether that be little pieces of advice, to the best companies to work for after you have finished interning.
  3. Be excited: Every day interning will hopefully bring a new challenge so be passionate about your internship journey.  Ensure you are at the office on time and ready to get going. Even better, get there slightly earlier than others, so you’ve organised your personal things and can get straight to work once you are set tasks. Make sure to bring a diary, or somewhere you can write down notes.
  4. Prove yourself: When you begin interning, you’re going to be faced with new challenges – that’s the whole point!  Maybe you aren’t the kind of person who excels at a certain task, but it is important to take each task as a learning opportunity to boost your skills.
  5. Build good working relationships: The point of internships is that they are an entry point into a career. During your time there, build a good rapport with your employer so they become a great future contact. This is probably your first shot at networking, so make it count. Building working relationships with professionals is something you must do throughout your whole working life, and it is never too early to start.
  6. Learn to love constructive criticism: Being told that your work is great is always going to make you proud, but being given constructive criticism is just as good. Whether this means that your writing needs some improvement, or that you need to work on your communication skills, everything your boss tells you is valuable and can be applied to your future career.

Internships are difficult to obtain but can be an invaluable way of understanding the workplace. In addition, they provide a structured working environment and an ideal opportunity to find out what the individual likes and dislikes about that particular role or sector. As most graduates have no idea what they want to do when they leave University, it is a great way to learn.

BACK TO WORK AFTER HAVING A BABY

BACK TO WORK AFTER HAVING A BABY
BY JAMES MICKLEWRIGHT, FOUNDER OF MICKLEWRIGHT CAREERS

Over the years, I have helped many women clients re-enter the workforce, including two daughters, therefore I believe I have a good understanding of the challenges involved and how to address them effectively and with sensitivity.

From the returning mother’s perspective, the experience can be initially quite daunting and many women must overcome a hesitancy and dip in their confidence. It is worth remembering that those important child rearing attributes, such as leadership, multi-tasking, resilience, patience, not to mention time management skills will be much appreciated when you get back in the saddle.

Ever more employers understand and support this vital (and large) talent pool. It is understandable that returning to work post-baby can be difficult but it’s not unsurmountable with the right support. Common challenges may centre around balancing childcare with a work schedule and an ability to embrace the changes in technology, sector or working environment. Often priorities have changed and a healthy work-life balance becomes paramount.

A survey by Maternity Action found that 17 per cent of employers agreed that ‘there is often resentment amongst the wider team towards women who are pregnant or on maternity leave’.

A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has showed that 10% of women felt that their employer treated them much worse after having a baby. Shockingly, one in five new mums experienced negative comments or even harassment in the workplace when returning to work. One in 20 women have even experienced a pay cut.

What employers don’t always recognise is that women who have children still wish to progress in their careers – having a baby doesn’t mean the end of your work life. Employers can make wild assumptions and often push new mums into less challenging or part time roles within the workplace that aren’t necessarily what they want. This is at best misguided and at worse discriminatory.

Evidently, there is room for improvement to put an end to female discrimination in the workplace. Knowing your rights is the best way to tackle post-baby discrimination at work, but employers also need to understand the importance of addressing their staff’s return to work sensitively whilst providing flexible opportunities within the organisation that work for both parties

TIPS FOR EMPLOYERS

1. Make sure you ask new mums what their ideal working scenario is. Don’t assume they need a lighter workload and put them in a less challenging role. Many women are still as ambitious and driven post-baby (some even more so), so it’s important not to not jump to any conclusions based on their change in circumstances.

2. Don’t patronise new mums. It’s important that those returning to work feel comfortable and that they’re being welcomed back into a healthy and understanding working environment.

3. Offer ‘keep in touch’ days to new mothers (KIT). These days enable new mothers to work for up to 10 days whilst on maternity leave without losing their maternity leave pay. These days allow them to stay in the loop with their company and make sure they are up to date with changes so their return isn’t too much of a shock.

4. Legally, women are entitled to return to their old job with the exact same terms and conditions they had before. They also have the right to apply for a flexible work, if they have been at the company for at least 26 weeks before their maternity leave started. If women experience discrimination or are dismissed unfairly, they can seek legal advice and claim for maternity discrimination.

HOW TO NETWORK EFFECTIVELY

HOW TO NETWORK EFFECTIVELY
by James Micklewright, Founder of Micklewright Careers

Real networking isn’t about personal gain, it’s all about building professional relationships with others.

Opportunities to network should not be missed but even for the most extrovert of us it can be intimidating walking into a room of new people and introducing yourself and holding small talk.

Confidence comes from knowing that your business or your work experience is your specialist subject and you are the best person to talk about it. Practise makes perfect and after a while it could become second nature.  Being able to listen and ask questions is also key. Find out about the person that you are talking to – avoid giving them a sales pitch.

Don’t forget social media networking sites such as LinkedIn and even Twitter are also useful ways to network. Build up a strong profile complete with all your experience and achievements to make your social media presence professional but you need to interact with others, not just sign up. Join groups and start discussions and try to build strong working relationships and alliances.

It’s also important to find the right networking group for you. Shop around to choose the right group.   

Here are 10 top tips that could help you build better working relationships by networking effectively:

  1. Make yourself memorable – When meeting new people, it can be difficult to remember everyone’s names and exactly what job they do. Creating a memorable introduction for yourself with a distinguishable anecdote or story will help you stick in people’s memories more. Confidence is key to this. Be clear of what you do and share your own experience and stories with people to connect with them on a personal level.
  2. Take an interest in what the other person is saying – Networking isn’t simply about taking business cards and getting as many numbers as you can. It’s important to build relationships with people you meet and find ways in which you can help each other and share ideas. Find things in common with the person you’re trying to connect with and take a genuine interest in their life.
  3. Never leave a contact as simply a name and number – If relevant, continue the connection when you are back in the office. Engage with them through LinkedIn, email, or a phone call. Send your contact pertinent articles to show that you have their interest at heart. Ensure that you are always on the ball when it comes to new contacts and don’t let them slip through your fingers.
  4. Use social network for your own personal gain – Social media is brilliant for finding out information about people, so don’t be afraid to use it. Building up your social media profiles is a great way for people to understand what you do and who you are. For example, if you are going to an event and you have the guest list, use LinkedIn to find out who the key people you wish to meet.
  5. Never ignore anyone – Just because you think somebody doesn’t fit what you’re looking for, still take the time to chat to them and find out what they’re about. Remember that every single person is worth talking to. You just never know what can come from a conversation as they might even be able to point you in the direction of one of their contacts who can help you.
  6. Introduce people to others of value to them – Networking is all about give and take but the more you ‘give’ you will find the more you get back in return. Become known as someone with connections. If you see an opportunity to bring two parties together for potential benefit don’t hesitate, even though there is nothing in it for you. That favour will not be forgotten, as others will start to do the same for you in the future.
  7. Practice networking whenever you can – Many find the whole idea of networking excruciating but so much of it is just down to practice and preparation at every opportunity. Contacts can be made at the most unlikely places often outside of networking events, like your children’s school, or the gym etc.  Make sure that whenever you get the chance to gain a new contact, do so.
  8. Be aware of your own goals – Even though you aren’t trying to sell yourself when networking, be aware that you have your own aims of what you want to get from the conversation. Are you there to gain advice, experience or to widen your client base, for example? Every person is valid to talk to, but bear in mind what you are trying to gain from the experience.
  9. Don’t forget about old contacts – Whilst flicking through your address book, you may realise that you haven’t contacted someone in a long while, because they’re less important to your business life as they once were. However, checking in occasionally will allow you to keep the door open, as you never know when you might need to rely on them again. Even if you just interact once every six months or so for a career update, this is still vital to maintaining your business links.
  10. Reach out to people however you can – One of the key features in networking effectively is ensuring that you reach out to as many people as you can. Social media is an easy tool for this. You can still connect with people you have never met just by messaging them on a social media platform and gaining their contact details. You don’t have to go to a conference every day in

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HOW TO BE AWARE OF YOUR BODY LANGUAGE IN AN INTERVIEW 

HOW TO BE AWARE OF YOUR BODY LANGUAGE IN AN INTERVIEW 

  1. Being aware of your body language is important in all aspects of our lives as it is one of the most effective ways we communicate with each other. Look for signals from the other people in the room.  If they’re smiling, they are likely to be relaxed and really listening to what you have to say. 
  2. Practise interviews with a professional careers coach or ask a professional friend to analyse your movements in a mock interview. Practice makes perfect! Do you look like an approachable, confident potential member of the team? 
  3. Be open; uncross your arms, hands and legs. Always take off your coat and don’t leave your bag or laptop sat on your knee and keep your drink (stick to water if you can) on a table rather than held in front of you. Having an open upper torso opens you up for conversation and engagement.  
  4. Be aware of your eye contact because it’s key in a professional setting. Do make sure you look at everyone in the room but avoid constantly throwing your eye contact around to check everyone is engaged in everything you have to say.  
  5. Make sure your body language reflects what you are saying. In an interview, you may talk about a previous leadership role you had. Show them you are professional and confident by sitting tall with your shoulders back and head high.
  6. Portray the best version of you. Although your body language can speak louder than words, you don’t want to show all your thoughts and feelings! For example, most of us would avoid yawning or appearing tired and unengaged.  It really gives the game away. 
  7. Avoid being distracting. Bad habits include nail biting, leg shaking, clicking a pen and tapping your hands and feet. Be careful of playing with a tie, collar, hair or necklace as your interviewer may think you are nervous. 
  8. It’s okay to smile and laugh but avoid giggling.  You won’t be taken seriously. 
  9. Avoid over-gesticulating and repeating the same word over and over such as “We have projects like the banks, but like it’s so XX..” 
  10. Be careful not to totally mirror your interviewer’s body language – they may be very demonstrative and you don’t want to appear insolent by copying them. 

CONFIDENCE FOR SILVERS

CONFIDENCE FOR SILVERS

Self-confidence plays such an important part throughout our lives, from schooldays through to the precarious world of business.
As a Career Coach, every day I meet clients of all levels of seniority and from all sectors, who contact me for a variety of reasons, but most commonly because they are facing redundancy, are seeking a change or are just unhappy at work.

I recently had a call from ex-client Tom who told me that out of the blue he is to be “let-go,” which came as a big shock to him and his family, after over five years of steady progression in his company to his current senior role. Apart from the fact that he feels angry and anxious for his future particularly as he is just over fifty, his confidence undoubtedly will have taken a knock as he thought he had a future with his ex-company.

Peter recently left a leading US software supplier where he clashed with his boss. Previously he had only known success but this has perhaps turned out to be a misstep in his career. When he came to me it was obvious here was someone who had definitely lost his way.

Jane had been working for some years for a major US telecoms company, which she had enjoyed until the last two years when she encountered a boss who continually undermined her, to the point that when she came to me she was suffering from stress and a loss of self-esteem.

Lastly and too numerous to mention are the many clients who reach fifty-plus, have been made redundant and struggle to gain the attention of recruiters and organisations. Typical is the comment I received last week, “Job hunting is a chore and frustrating, with very poor results in 6 to 8 months of hard work.”

So how to avert this crisis of confidence when things go wrong in your career at any age, but particularly when you are older? Here are some practical steps:

  • Prepare a CV that encompasses your skills and achievements with a clearly defined Professional Profile. Know your brand and your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). A powerful, engaging and powerful CV will make you feel good about yourself and will demonstrate to a future employer what you have to offer.
  • Take control. It’s a very competitive job market and likely to be even more so, therefore you have to be more proactive and crucially better than everyone else.
  • Avoid the shot gun approach when engaging with recruiters. Don’t send out multiple CV’s but try and identify the agencies in your sector to contact. Use the phone and contact them on a regular basis as it shows you are serious and professional.
  • Activate your network. Unfortunately, so many people have let their network lapse (“I haven’t needed one before”) but it is never too late to resurrect and LinkedIn has made things so much easier. Although daunting at first, you will be surprised how pleased ex-colleagues will be to hear from you. Not only that, they are often a positive reminder what a great job you did.
  • So your CV has done the trick and you are through the door to interview. Above all this is the one area in the job search process where confidence is critical. There is nothing magic about interviews and like most things it comes down to practice. Look through the questions you might be asked, including competency questions (“describe a situation, tell me about a time etc.”) and use your CV full of skills and achievements to respond. This will really help you perform to your best and get the job.

There isn’t just one way to help improve self-esteem when finding the right job, but taking control and building a strong marketing platform around your Curriculum Vitae will help. In addition, your support network of family and friends, ex-colleagues, perhaps suppliers and business contacts will be a great source of empowerment. Good luck out there.

What Millennials Want in Their Careers

WHAT MILLENNIALS WANT IN THEIR CAREERS
By James Micklewright, Founder of Micklewright Careers

Since around 2008, millennials have graduated in a post-financial crisis world where jobs are scarce and good salaries are even harder to find. Since then, although many businesses have recovered from the financial crash and are once again offering jobs to millennials, there is a real change in what is being sought after in a millennial’s career.

Millennials are the first generation of people to earn less than their parents did in their twenties, the rising price of houses means that they’ll likely never afford a house, they’re crippled by debt from attending university, they’re not settling down until later and one in four male millennials and one in six female millennials are still living with their parents.

But instead of wallowing in their depressing prospects they’re seeking other ways to be content in their work-life.

Charlotte I’Anson, who graduated in 2016 and is now working as a PR and Marketing representative says: “In a job I want total equality in the workplace. It sounds clichéd but I see a lot of ageism going on and just because we are typically the youngest in the office, it should not mean that we are any less worthy. My parents on the other hand just accepted that people older than them could automatically tell them what to do and how it was going to be. Work life balance is also really important to millennials.”

Millennials are not only starting to see their worth, but they are also embracing the ‘career-blend’; a new phenomenon where young people are working four days a week in their standard office job and then dedicating one-day a week to perhaps for example their digital media start-up. A career-blend is a way of introducing creativity, innovation and overall, hope, to an otherwise potentially depressing outlook. It gives millennials the chance to develop themselves personally at a rate, which they feel comfortable with, whilst earning extra cash on the side.

But it’s not just the career-blend that millennials are after. Millennials want a flexible working contract, which gives them the freedom to travel, have a social life, yet still work hard and stay sane. Some agencies positively encourage this by offering contracts to 90% of their workforce to four days a week and offer yoga classes to stressed out employees. This way of doing things boosts productivity and overall, loyalty to a company.

In 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the work force and if businesses want to attract young, innovative millennials then it will be the management’s job to inspire them. 50% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to find work which matches their values and a huge 90% want to use their skills for good. Whereas in the past, people slaved away in order to provide for their families and pay off that mortgage. Now, millennials don’t have mortgages, they have families much later in our lives and they are less motivated by money.

Millennials are skilled workers who can contribute a lot of any business but the key to boosting their productivity is to be found in offering a flexible working life, which allows them to travel, be creative, and be inspired. In an increasingly competitive environment, it’s important that businesses recognise and fulfil this need to sustain the success of their company.

New job do’s and don’ts

NEW JOB DO’S AND DON’TS
James Micklewright, Founder of Micklewright Careers

Congratulations, you have made it successfully through all the interviews and you landed the job you wanted. Now is the time to start thinking about your new role and how you will fit in with a new organisation and make a positive impression. First impressions do count…

Briefly the “Do’s”:

Induction – what do you need to know?

  • How quickly
  • From whom
  • To what level of detail

Key issues – what are their expectations of you?

  • How quickly
  • Priority order
  • Available resources
  • Perceived constraints

Structures – who are the key players?

  • Organisation chart / direct reports
  • Communication routes
  • Key policies

Personal & practical – the basics

  • Dress code
  • Learning names
  • Parking / key local information
  • Facilities
  • Learning personnel protocols
  • Absence calls
  • Emergency calls
  • Use of email / web sites / phones
  • Social elements (Friday evening; charity work)

The Don’ts

  • Don’t jump to conclusions that what worked in your previous company will work in your new one – “we did this way at company XYZ”
  • Don’t’ try too hard to impress, don’t do everything yourself to prove you can
  • Don’t stress. It takes time to get up to speed in a new job. Set goals and key people to meet and relationships to build inside and outside the company
  • Don’t waste the honeymoon period. You need to start acquainting yourself with the organisation immediately, making a mark, adding value as soon as you settle into your new role.

General Guidance

  • Listen carefully to everyone without too much comment and learn for the first month. Do not read too much into what others say. Misinterpretation and misjudgements could result if you jump to conclusions about what someone means. Listen attentively, ask follow-up questions if necessary and understand the situation before drawing conclusions
  • Learn everyone’s name and one thing about them personally (children, hobby, where they live) as fast as possible
  • Record impressions – away from work – mapping impressions and then testing them
  • Strive to create positive, professionally friendly relations with colleagues. Be yourself
  • Avoid trying to drive others by using your motivators – learn to understand theirs and apply them
  • Recognise that your urgency may not be shared by others; explain and exemplify to get practical buy-in from colleagues
  • Record and measure your successes and failures ready for that employee review after your probation period

PROFESSIONALS ARE GETTING TOO COMFORTABLE IN THEIR CAREER

PROFESSIONALS ARE GETTING TOO COMFORTABLE IN THEIR CAREER
by James Micklewright, Founder of Micklewright Careers

Sadly, like a lot of things – we often don’t think about our career until it is going wrong. As long as tasks are being completed, calls and emails are answered and all our bills are paid, we tend to ignore the possibility of losing our jobs and indeed if we are in fact in the right career.

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Maybe you have been working in a certain industry for many years but increasingly you are not sure if it makes you entirely happy or you feel unfilled? Alternatively, perhaps you’re self-employed and you face the need to find a constant stream of clients? Particularly as we age, professionals tend to be increasingly settled in their jobs. We think that because we work hard and are loyal to our company, our job is safe and we can continue as we are indefinitely.

But with an uncertain economic future, increased globilisation, automation and an emphasis on specialist skills, the job market is as competitive as it’s ever been and thus we cannot be fully sure what the future means for many of us job-wise.

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Career checks ensure you are in the right job and in the right career, and make sure that you are ready for whatever your future holds. Perhaps you need to add new skills to your CV or need some extra training to boost your personal profile?

Ask yourself these questions:-

  • What is my longer-term career goal?
  • How does my current position help me move closer to my career objective?
  • How do I accommodate my career goal with my work/life balance?
  • Are my skills being successfully incorporated into my career aspirations?
  • Should I have a plan and timeline to achieve my key career milestones?

And if you are not sure of the answers, have a career health check.