Expectations for Student Interns and New Professionals

Transitioning to the World of Work

Am I qualified for that internship?
Have I gotten involved on and off campus and incorporated those experiences into my resume?
Have I investigated opportunities and applied to those that interest me? 
Have I made enough connections?
Do I know where I’d like to look for full time work after graduation?”

These are just some of the questions you may be asking yourself throughout your college career.  In fact, much of your four years are probably spent preparing for what comes next.  The goal is to find an internship or experience that will help you to get a job after graduation, right? 

Actually, that is only part of it.  Finding opportunities is half the battle; succeeding in those opportunities is what shapes how you will move forward from there.  Read on for tips on how to successfully transition from college to the workplace by living up to what you promised employers in an interview, making an effort to fit in once there, and understanding some of the challenges you may face.

Understanding What Employers Want... and Deliver

Career Development works with students to understand what employers are looking for in order to guide them through the job search process.  This can shape resumes, cover letters, and interview responses to demonstrate one’s compatibility with a company or position.  Specifically, we spend a lot of time coaching the S.T.A.R. method to encourage students to tell stories about their experiences as a way of demonstrating their skills and qualifications. 

Results from a recent NACE poll indicate that employers find the following 10 skills to be the most essential in new hires. 

  • Ability to work in a team structure
  • Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
  • Ability to make decisions and solve problems
  • Ability to obtain and process information
  • Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Ability to analyze quantitative data
  • Technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  • Ability to sell or influence others

You can certainly tailor your job search efforts thus, potentially helping you to land the job.  However, and perhaps more importantly, it is then your responsibility to continually show your new employers that you meant it when you laid claim to those skills.  Failure to do so can result in a difficult transition.

For example, if you touted organizational skills or expressed a love of working in teams in your interview, employers will expect those strengths to shine once you begin working.  They will quickly be able to determine if you were exaggerating, or simply ‘talking the talk,’ which will damage your budding reputation as a professional.  For this reason (and many others), we can’t stress enough how important it is to be truthful in the job search process.  Yes, you can make an effort to ‘get at’ what employers are looking for, but only if it remains true to who you are!

The most important thing you can do once employed is show that you can add value to your organization.  Although there may be a period of time in which you will be ‘proving yourself’ more than contributing, remember what you were hired to do and work at mastering your responsibilities. Most importantly, keep in mind what employers want (specifically what your employer wants!), and DELIVER!

10 Simple Ways to Succeed         The Importance of Finding a Mentor

These articles are geared toward recent graduates embarking on their first year on the job. However, the information is well-suited for students entering into an internship or professional experience that is a stepping stone to your career. 

Common Challenges to a Successful Transition

Attitudes and Expectations
When beginning in a work place, first adjust your expectations.  You are new, you are young, you are inexperienced; don’t be impatient or hurt if you aren’t asked your opinion or no one seems interested in your ideas right away.  Slow down and   positively embrace the “paying your dues” time.  Show that you are open to feedback and don’t cut corners in learning the foundations and culture of your new work setting.  It’s more important to develop work savvy, an understanding of office politics, and a mastery of your job tasks (no matter what they are) before you start asking for challenges or looking for change.

Technology Blunders
No question - this is a technologically savvy generation.  But, in addition to being a tool for efficiency, it can be a detriment if not used professionally. A few quick tips:

  • Know when face-to-face is more appropriate than email communication
  • EVERY email should be treated as professionally as a business letter
  • Be careful with internet surfing or social media usage
  • Phones/devices should be off during meetings or left in your office


This section could go on and on... Check out a blog entry by an LVC graduate: Managing E-Mail on the Job

Generational Differences
In any given work setting, you could have 3 or 4 generations working. This can be a challenge if you aren’t aware of communication styles or work habits of each. You can learn a lot from individuals who’ve worked a long time; keep an open mind, find a mentor, and observe different perspectives and personalities. Keep in mind that just because you’re the newest generation working, doesn’t mean you’re the best.  Just as you may have pre-conceived notions of older generations, those same people have perceptions of you.  Be sensitive to this so you can more effectively collaborate in a multi-generational workforce.