Finding the Right Internship

In today’s tech savvy world you have to wonder if there’s any value to an internship? After all aren’t we talking a part-time gig working for a local company to make a few dollars to cover food, entertainment, gas, your car and other interesting, if not essential needs?

Smiling GirlGenerally, when thinking about internships, we imagine high school or college students and occasionally someone out of the workforce where years may have passed since they last worked. It’s where a potential employee and the company agree to try each other on for some period of time that need, interest and circumstances dictate.

So what makes for a good internship?

Is it an “A-level” company with a global presence? Or how about a start-up with a few employees where you’re working with the owner or founder – is that ideal? Maybe the best internship is the one that pays the most for the least amount of work? Or might it be the internship that challenges you to think, to apply what you know or what you’ve learned, to try, to fail and to learn by doing or in some cases re-doing?

Actually, a good internship is all or none of these alternatives depending on your expectations, and those of your potential employer. You need to ask yourself what am I looking for in an internship, and what can I take from this internship thatBox of chocolates will get me closer to doing what I think I want to do? After all, a valuable internship is also the one that helps you decide what you don’t like and would never want to do.

To quote Forest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” The same thought can apply to internships. Do your homework and engage those who work there now. Learn who your manager will be and what they are like. Is it someone you can learn from, do they have experience in your field, and is it someone you can respect? If doubts persist move on. An internship is about you and your future, not whether you earned points for enduring a disappointing experience.








Do What You Love to Do

Student 1It’s a simple question, “If money were no object what would you do?” And yet how many of us can say we’re doing what we love to do versus doing a job? The question came up again this past Sunday morning as I met a recent college grad who was new to DFW. In fact, she’d been here for just over 6 months and hadn’t really “connected” to the area as she and her parents had hoped.

We talked about her time in college, the internships she had, and what she did and didn’t like about each of her jobs. Generally, her positions were with financial services or venture-related firms which wasn’t surprising given her family and where they worked. What’s more, her career counselors raved about the companies she interned for and noted the money she could make with any of one them.

But money wasn’t the issue, and no one she talked to had ever asked what she loved to do.

“People come to me all the time for my opinion on things, especially cosmetics and beauty-related products, ” she gushed. “I love helping people find the best products for their needs.”

As oyoutube-for-android-lets-you-watch-videos-mostly-offline-updated--8bb4ae8a43ur conversation continued, she talked about video blogging and rendering her thoughts and opinions online. More and more today, she noted, reviewers are being influenced and paid to hype a product that doesn’t really meet an individual’s needs. That’s what I love to do, to help people get what’s really best for them regardless of price, but how do I get started, what do I do?

To do what you love to do isn’t easy, but identifying what you love to do and then sharing that passion with family, friends and others you meet enables them to better understand what you’re looking for and be on the lookout for potential openings that are right for you.

As our conversation continued, she thought more about the idea of doing what she loved to do and her energy level increased, her thoughts and ideas flowed more freely, and she said she finally felt she had a direction and purpose to her search.

Doing what you love to do can make all the difference in your life, your relationships and the way you view everything around you. And even if the job you find isn’t total nirvana, but it has most of the elements that coincide with doing what you love to do, you’ll be better for the experience, while the contagious vibe you bring to each day will surely render any semblance of TGIF a thing of the past.







The Secret to Work

Let yourself breathe and imagine the possibilities

Let yourself breathe and imagine the possibilities

Imagine if the idea of work was something you never had to consider. There was no such thing as TGIF. No worry about completing meaningless tasks with no value or purpose. You simply did what you love to do. You felt energized and motivated when Monday morning came around and you looked forward to attacking every day.

To many, if not most of us, the concept of never working a day in our life may seem like a fantasy. A dream scenario never realized except by the 1 in a million that wins the lottery. The retail clerk, factory worker or office pro who punches a clock, does the required work and at 5 o’clock calls it a day. The person who does what’s expected, meets their obligations and at the end of a long career looks back and says I did what I did for the time that I had.

But what if we changed this sobering scene by adding one word to your mindset. A word so profound you only need to embrace it to change your life forever. Would you do it? Of course you would – at least in theory. Want to know what the word is? It’s passion. I know you scoffed and thought passion, really, how can one word make a difference in who I am and what I do? And frankly, why should I care?

The word passion means “a strong and barely controllable emotion; a compelling enthusiasm or desire for something.”   So ask yourself, when you think about passion what comes to mind? Is it a person? Is it an object? Or is it a feeling that ignites your senses, a spiritual presence or is it something else? Perhaps it’s something you love to do? An activity that makes you feel good or great. It’s something you do just because and you could care less if it brought you any rewards. You do it because of the way it makes you feel, the gratification and inner joy it provides.

Do you think Steve Jobs was passionate about what he did?

Do you think Steve Jobs was passionate about what he did?

Now take that passion that pervades your soul and gives you a sense of being  and let it be your life’s work. That’s right, let it become your definition of “9 to 5” and what you do. But I have to warn you, when you marry your passion with what you do, the concept of work melts away. Words like obsessed, intense, and driven quickly replace words like mundane, boring and unfulfilling. You’ll find an inner spirit that comes alive and takes hold of your persona like a powerful drug.

So how, you might ask, do you define your passion? It’s easy, you ask yourself one question, “If money were no object, what would I do?” Allow yourself to breathe, to sit back and imagine the places where others share your passion. Remember passion breeds passion. Or as Anthony Robbins said, “There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete, a scientist, a parent or a businessperson.”

Benefits of a Professional Association

Why is it that students seemingly join all manner of clubs, groups, causes and more while on campus only to go “cold turkey” and drop all affiliations when it’s time to get a “real job” as my mother used to say? Or better yet, how many people do you know that give 110% to a new job at the expense of outside interests and after a year or two feel burned out and disconnected from the world they know and love?

I ask this question as more than an observation on life, it’s about being the engaged, well-rounded and interesting person most of us can be with a little work. Okay, you’re asking, where do associations fit in this life mix, especially with a full-time job, outside relationships or a family, kids activities, civic and religious affiliations, and a whole lot more?

Associations, of which there are more than 1.5 million non-profits, and easily over a 100,000 professional groups are a connection to “what’s happening” in your business or professional world. Yes, you can read the latest news in your field from innumerable sources, but where do you get the “why” behind the latest changes at a Fortune 500 entity or hear about a start-up being formed in your backyard?

But more than news, associations connect people of all ages, levels of experience, self-interests, motivations and personal goals. In many ways, they are a “melting pot” for your interests, no matter how narrow or broad they may be. And, whether you are looking to connect locally, regionally, nationally or even on a global scale the options are there for you.

The real secret to associations comes from the learning side that people often take for granted. Yes, there are meetings with guest speakers along with seminars, regional and national meetings, and enough research materials to fill a small library. No, I’m talking about the professional development side where you get to try almost any job you want with no risk and a core leadership group who want to see you succeed regardless of your background.

Years ago, an association needed a finance person to manage the books which can be a time-consuming and thankless job, especially in a sizeable organization. They had to have a numbers person, but how to get a volunteer to take on a second job? The answer – change the title of the association job. The accounting person suddenly became the “CFO” which instantly raised his expectations putting him in a leadership role where he was encourged to be progressive and forward-thinking.

At the same time, he was able to practice being a CFO and learn on the job about expectations from the organization, the board of directors and the members-at-large. In effect, a learn-by-doing opportunity that could quickly be added to his resume and provide a first-hand experience to discuss as his career advanced.

In most cases, nearly 95% to be exact, people join associations, but never become involved. They’re called “paper members” because they pay their dues and do nothing more than add a listing to their resume. As for the 5% who make a commitment and get involved it can be a life changing experience, I know. As a finalist for a new position, the final decision maker was a board member for a prominent association where I had been a chapter president; three days later I was offered the job.

Realizing Career Success with a Mentor

In today’s instant gratification, full speed ahead world why is it that mentoring seems like a forgotten or at least an overlooked art? That’s right, an art because you’re typically connecting with a master who has worked hard to get where they are and not only garnered your attention, but your respect as well.

For students and early career professionals, a mentor can help you see the proverbial “forest through the trees.” The possibilities in an industry or market you may be in today or the field you aspire to tomorrow. An experienced sage who may or may not see the glass as half-full, but who will always provide an opinion, an alternative perspective to what you see and how you think. And maybe surprisingly, for no cost other than acknowledging the thoughts rendered and sharing the reasons why you did or did not choose to accept the ideas presented.

Working with a mentor doesn’t need to be seen as a chore or an obligation to complete an assignment, but rather an open conversation where thoughts, ideas and feelings are shared on both sides. That’s right, the mentor will be learning from you almost as much as you will be learning from and about your mentor. Remember, each of us is unique with a different perspective on life, business, relationships and more that helps define who we are, how we think and certainly what we love to do.

When you think of a mentor stop and consider the power of a divining rod to seemingly find water where technology and experts alike are often unsuccessful. A powerful combination of faith, conviction and unquestioned expertise that despite the naysayers finds a way to succeed when everyone says stop, you’re wasting your time.

Studies have shown that each of us will change jobs 6, 7 or even 8 times over the course of our careers. Some will chase the money and not worry about the job itself, while others will forego the cash to make a contribution to life and their fellow man. And still others will pursue a career path that delivers on all fronts, personal and professional, and we’ll call them successful. The best, most experienced climbers in the world never begin an ascent without a guide, a sherpa at their side, so why embark on an unchartered course for success when having a trusted mentor can make all the difference.

Never Work a Day in Your Life