Establishing a Successful Internship Program

It’s the end of March and you know what that means: thousands of college students are looking for summer internships!!!

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If your Los Angeles- or Orange County-area company doesn’t already have an internship program, why not? Whether paid or un-paid (the student receives no monetary compensation but does receive college credit for her work with you), internships greatly benefit both the student and the employer: the student gets some real-world experience (that could lead to a real-world paying job) and the employer gets to have a top-notch student in his office, eager to work and learn – and possibly work after the internship! In other words, starting an internship program at your business can be a terrific recruiting tool.

March and April are Prime Time for Students to Seek out Summer Internships: How to Start One

If you’ve never had an internship program before, take a look below; we’ve put together an eight-step process for you to follow (and make your own, depending on your firm’s specific needs). Take a look below:

  1. Talk to a few local colleges.

If you’ve never hosted interns before, you’ll have a lot of questions that need answering. You’ll need to speak with college career offices to see what requirements they have as to what is acceptable in an internship (hiring someone just to get you coffee and run errands usually is not considered an internship). After all, the college wants its students to learn something during the students’ time with you. The college may ask you to outline what its students will learn and how you will ensure they learn it.

  1. Decide how many interns you can handle and where they will work.

Not every department in every company can host interns. Departments which typically host interns include marketing, human resources, accounting/finance, and even operations. Talk to department heads to see how many they may want/can handle before promoting internships.

  1. Decide if the internship will be paid or un-paid.

Don’t be worried if you cannot pay your interns. So long as they receive college credit, you will have students applying for your opportunity.

  1. Design the program.

A good internship structure will have learning objectives, daily responsibilities, both short- and long-term projects, evaluation procedures, written expectations, orientation, and an off-boarding process.

  1. Evaluate and decide on the skills, educational background, etc. you feel your interns will need.

For example, if you’re opening up a marketing internship, you will want a student with at least one or more classes in marketing, public relations/communications.

  1. Post the position.

You’ll want to post it with the many colleges and universities in Southern California. (You may decide to post only with a few, or with all; you can even post the opportunity at nationwide internship-posting sites.)

  1. Interview, check references and hire.

Practically every student you interview will have some sort of job history: it’s important that you check to make sure they have a good work ethic, no criminal background, and so on. Even if your firm’s HR department is in charge of the program, make sure the intern’s direct supervisor has a big say in choosing the final candidate.

If you’d like to hire your intern, but are still a tad uncertain if you want to bring her onboard permanently, Helpmates can put her on our payroll until if/when you decide to transfer her to your own.

Want to learn more? Contact the Helpmates office nearest you today.

When You Don’t Want to Be the Boss: the Lattice Career Model

You’ve no doubt heard of someone who is absolutely terrific at sales. He or she meets and exceeds quotas left and right, month after month, year after year. So great is this person’s sales prowess that higher ups decide this individual is so phenomenal, they offer the carrot of going into sales management.

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And then the cliff falls away: the qualities it takes to excel at sales are different than those needed to manage and lead others. So much so that many exceptional sales professionals fall flat on their faces within just months of managing other sales professionals.

Successful sales people often turn down promotions into management for this very reason: they are great at what they do, are highly valued and often highly compensated. What’s not to like and why should they change?!

But what if you’re not a salesperson? Few jobs offer the chance to make more money without a promotion. Few positions also offer the opportunity to learn more and try different things without a promotion.

What’s more, what if you would love a promotion, but there’s just no room in your company for it (there’s only one spot ahead of you on the company’s organization chart and you know for a fact that that person has no plans to leave any time soon)?

Enter the career lattice. Possibly more appropriate in today’s workplace where people often come and go relatively quickly, where hierarchies are being replaced with collaborative work styles, the lattice is a great career path for ambitious professionals who know they don’t want to – or don’t have the skills to – manage others.

The lattice works because it recognizes there no longer is one definition of career success (that of climbing up “the rungs” until reaching the highest position possible in an individual’s career). The lattice concept is valuable because it acknowledges that there are a number of ways to contribute and different paths to grow in a career and skills.

What This Means for YOUR Career

Embracing the lattice concept of on-the-job success essentially gives those with non-traditional ambitions a sort of carte blanche when it comes to crafting a career. No longer do you need to worry that you’re not “right” for the next step up the ladder: once you get all you can out of a position in terms of challenge, skills and experiences, you can choose to take the next step up, or take those skills and experiences and find another position that uses your talents while challenging you in different ways.

For example, let’s say you started in banking at the teller level at a small bank. You take a few steps up the traditional teller ladder, taking a few classes along the way to upgrade your skills. You then find another job as a teller, but in a multi-national bank, where you’re encouraged to learn international exchange or credit analysis. You may not be “moving up” (at least, not yet), but while you’re a teller you’re learning new things and enjoying a more engaging work experience.

Or you’re a newly minted CPA and you start out in taxation in a large accounting firm. It can take a while to move up, but perhaps you get interested in the firm’s state and local tax side, so you ask to move over to that group for a while. Such a lateral move now allows you to learn additional skills, helping you stay in demand and moving up later.

If you’ve been stuck in a rut for a bit in your current position and are looking to make a change, contact the Helpmates office nearest you to learn more about how we can help you move up – or sideways – in your career. In the meantime, take a look at our current openings to see if there’s one that interests you.

Ghosting Isn’t Right in Romance and it’s NOT Ok to Do to Job Candidates

Have you ever been “ghosted”? That time when a romantic partner just disappears – not returning calls or texts – just suddenly cutting off all communication, as if the relationship never existed?

It’s a cruel and immature way to end a relationship. Young people tend to do it because they are afraid of the reaction they may get when they want to break up with someone if they were to do it in person or over the phone or text.

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But even adults ghost. (Even middle-aged adults, if the story that Cherlize Theron ghosted Sean Penn is true.)

And, be honest, isn’t there at least one time you never got back to a candidate after interviewing him or her ? You just….disappeared?

We’ve all done it probably. After all, as recruiters we’re overwhelmed with candidates and position requisitions. Or as hiring managers, we have our regular jobs to do, not to mention interviewing several candidates, and then conducting second and possibly third interviews, negotiating salary with the candidate we do choose, onboarding the candidate and getting him up to speed. It’s easy to forget about the candidates we met with but didn’t choose.

But they haven’t forgotten us. And since many companies don’t even bother to send out a “thank you for applying but we choose a more qualified candidate” letter anymore your candidates — the people who took time out of their days (possibly more than once) to come to your office for several hours are sitting at home. Waiting. Wondering.

This is No Way to Treat a Candidate!

While it’s common practice now not to acknowledge applicants who aren’t interviewed for a position, we feel that anyone who takes the time to come in for an interview deserves the courtesy of a phone call to hear that the hiring manager chose someone else.

And that phone call should come from the hiring manager. (At the very least, the hiring manager should send an e-mail to the not-chosen candidate.)

More Than Just the Right Thing to Do

Taking the time to contact an interviewed candidate not only is courteous, but can help a candidate stay interested in you in the future. After all, a talented individual may not be the right fit for one position, but could be a great one for another. Just imagine the cost savings: instead of having to cull through dozens of resumes, speak to several more candidates, and so on you could instead just bring him in to make sure he’s a good fit. No need to go through the interview process all over again!

But if you never let him know he didn’t get the job, not only do you not keep him in your pipeline, he now has negative thoughts and feelings about you. Don’t forget, people tend to share negative experiences they’ve had with businesses more than they share positive encounters. And with social media at his fingertips……

Bottom line: calling a candidate to let him know he didn’t get the job not only shows respect and courtesy, it helps create a positive candidate experience. On the other hand, a negative candidate experience can be “self-destructive” and have undesirable consequences for your firm down the road.

Sorting through resumes and performing preliminary screening activities on candidates for your Orange County or Los Angeles company can take considerable time. Let Helpmates do this tiresome but critical aspect of your interview process for you. Contact us today.

Signs It’s Time to Get a New Job (Even if the Current One Isn’t Too Bad)

Let’s say you have a job that’s pretty much OK. Possibly even fairly good: you and your boss get along. Your coworkers are nice. You are competent – if not even pretty good – at the tasks assigned to you.

It’s simply your average, OK, nothing-special-but-nothing-bad job.

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It may be time to leave it. Here are a few reasons why.

  • The job has become easy.

Some great jobs are like that: what used to cause you to stretch and challenge yourself a little bit has become “the usual.” You can do the job with your eyes closed. Nothing surprises you; nothing makes you reach a little deeper to get things done. You’ve learned everything there is to know about how to do the job well. And you do perform it very well!

While this may sound like a dream job, watch out (stress-free job!): if you’re not learning new skills, if you’re not challenged at least a little bit, you run the risk of becoming stagnant. What’s more, if you’re continuing to coast along, not learning new things or taking on new challenges, if you should be laid off or fired, you may find that your skills aren’t up to the level a new employer needs.

It’s wisest to always aim to learn new skills because technology is constantly changing and today’s job market requires that workers keep up or be left behind. Yes, it can be very uncomfortable to find a new skill awkward or hard to do. No one likes to be perceived as incompetent. But everything new is hard…until it isn’t.

If you’re so good at your job that it’s very easy, it may be time to look for a more challenging position.

  • There’s no room for advancement.

Just about every company wants to provide raises and promotions to its employees, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Smaller companies, especially, may have a hard time finding a spot for a good employee with ambition. After all, there can only be one director of marketing, for example, and if the current director has no plans to leave, what is an ambitious assistant director to do?

She could decide that she’ll ask her boss for more responsibility and projects, take on new skills without asking for a raise or promotion with it and decide instead that she’s with new challenges within the same position. Instead of moving up the traditional career ladder, she’s moving along what has come to be known as the career lattice, a term used to describe today’s understanding that there’s no longer a one-size-fits-all definition of success, but rather many ways an employee can be challenged, grow and contribute.

But if the assistant director goes to the boss, asking for more responsibility and challenges and the boss refuses or says it’s just not possible, then it’s probably time for the assistant director to start looking elsewhere for those challenges and successes.

  • You don’t respect your boss.

Remember that respect has nothing to do with liking your boss: respect is all about valuing what your boss does and the way she does it. You can even disagree with your boss at times and still respect her. But if you feel she lacks vision; if you feel she’s indecisive or, conversely, impulsive; if you feel she mistreats team members or shows underserved favoritism; if you couldn’t give her a recommendation as a supervisor, it’s a sign you don’t respect her and you may want to look elsewhere.

If you feel it’s time to take on new career challenges, we can help you here at Helpmates. All of our recruiters are Certified Staffing Professionals, which means they will be able to identify your strengths, listen to your desires and do their best to match your needs with our available opportunities. Contact the Helpmates office nearest you for more information.

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