5 Tips to Rock Your First Internship

Congratulations! You’ve scored a great internship and are laying the foundation for your future as a professional. Internships are a great way to gain hands-on experience and increase your chances of finding a full-time job. Here are some tips to help shake the first day jitters and rock your internship:  

1. Be Prepared 

Do your research before you get there. Read up on the company’s purpose, history, and culture. You should also explore the industry and industry buzzwords. If you want to, you could also ask your supervisor for any reading or pre-work you should do before your first day! 

2. Show Your Commitment 

Show up to work on-time and be sure to get all your work done by the deadlines. Be sure to ask questions if you have them and express your enthusiasm and motivation for learning. It’s imperative to communicate your interest in your work. You should also ask your supervisor for feedback on the projects you work on. Doing this will give you areas to focus and improve upon so that you can make the most of your internship. 

3. Network 

Remember, an internship also offers you the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from people of different age groups and backgrounds. So be sure to introduce yourself and try to meet everyone in the office (or at least your department). Not only will this give insight into the way your company works, but you might also pick up a few extra projects along the way. Who knows, you may even find yourself a mentor too! 

4. Seize Opportunity 

Ask your supervisor about tasks you can work on when you don’t have anything specific to do. Take on the mindset that you want to contribute as much as you can before you leave your internship. By asking for more responsibilities, you may land a project that you can highlight on your resume and promote in future job interviews. By seizing each day, you will be able to keep yourself busy and set goals for yourself. 

5. Give It Your Best 

Doing the best you can is the most important rule when completing work-related tasks. By jumping into each task with everything you have, you are more likely to do a good job.  

By the end, be sure to thank your employer for the wonderful opportunity! Hopefully, with these tips, you will leave your internship with a valuable experience that taught you about the workplace and allowed you to forge relationships with professionals. Be sure to keep in touch even after the experience is over! 

Match Your Career Goals to Your College Major

As a college student, it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after you graduate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the options before you, we get it. You’ve got so many choices, and no idea where to start.

Work Backwards

You’re not alone. In fact, we recommend figuring out which career you want, and then shaping your education based on those dreams. That way, when you’re ready to go out into the world and start looking for a job or internship, you can focus on refining the skills that will help get you there—not just finding something that sounds good on paper.

If you want to be an astrophysicist but didn’t take physics in high school, don’t let that stop you from pursuing your dream! Just take the classes that will help give you the skills you need.

Consider Time and Money

Let’s be real, education isn’t cheap! If you’re hoping to save some money while earning a potential degree, consider saving some cash by kicking off at a community college and transferring later. If you’re interested in attending graduate or medical school, we love that for you! Just consider the cost and be sure to really research some options for financial aid.

Visit Your School’s Career Center

Meet with advisors who will help identify skills and interests that are related to specific fields of study; discuss ways in which those skills can be translated into job opportunities; learn how different majors prepare students for certain careers; determine what educational or professional requirements exist before entering a particular field of study; explore options available within each major; and explore options outside of each major that may lead toward career goals.

Find your fit and focus!

If the first step of choosing a career doesn’t work for you, then focus on the fit of your major. Take note of how you feel during different classes. Do you see yourself doing this type of work in the future? Trust your intuition; do you have an overall sense of ease or belonging when it comes to your major? Reflect, and adjust accordingly!

Matching your major to your future career is all about setting yourself up to achieve your dreams and aspirations. No matter where you are in this process, keep these steps in the back of your mind. Though we encourage you to contemplate these big questions about your future, don’t let it stress you out. You will figure it out, we promise!

Building Your College List

When you’re applying to college, building a list of programs that interest you is essential. Knowing where to begin can be the hardest part, to be honest. With so many opinions flying around you, “Go here”, “Do this”, “They haven’t won a championship game in 12 years”, it can be so overwhelming to even know what it is you want in a college experience.

HERE’S YOUR REMINDER, FRIEND: This is YOUR education and YOUR choice on what’s going to be the right move for you. There are plenty of options out there for everyone, and not every campus is the same. Take some notes on some important guides to keep your mind in the right place as you build your dream college list.

Nail down your numbers

You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you know exactly where you stand. You won’t be surprised by what’s possible—or what isn’t—and it will help you make sure that the things that are most important. You know that test score and GPA is going to be a factor, so be realistic in your hunt when looking at requirements at different campuses.

Weigh those priorities!

What’s important to you? Is it a social scene? Location by city? Interested in the top STEM program in the Northwestern US? SO many things to consider when picking the next step in your life! Write a list from 1-10 on what factors play a part in choosing the right school. You’ll be surprised at what takes the top of the list!

Know yourself and your situation

Self-exploration and self-reflection are critical to knowing your unique personal situation. Start by owning your personal ambitions and build a roadmap for how to get there. What interests you? Which subject inspires you? What problem in the world do you want to help solve? If you don’t know what profession interests you, that is okay! There are college programs set up to help you explore that. Clarifying your career goals and interests will help you select schools that can support you the way you need.

Identify your support circle

Friend, you can’t possibly do this alone! Whether you know it or not, you have people who are cheering you on and ready to see you win. These same people can offer motivation, wisdom, and advice. You can turn to family, friends, coaches, teachers, counselors, and peers for guidance! Never forget though: This is your journey. A strong support system can serve as a board as you continue to unpack your priorities, make decisions, and plan for life after high school.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will anyone else?

So here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to take some time to reflect on where we are right now, what our priorities are and how much support we have in our lives—and then we’re going to decide together where we want to go from there. Cheering you on from Encourage – you got this!

7 Ways to Crush Your Goals

If you’re working to become #GOALS, you know how challenging it can be to stay the course and continue grinding. It’s easy to go through the everyday motions and feel like you’re not making progress.

But you know what’s great about setting goals? You can do anything you set your mind to.

We’ve been there too. Plenty of times. And to be honest, the only way to get through it is by crafting a sensical, realistic plan to achieve your goals. When it comes to embarking on your journey, it’s ESSENTIAL to understand what’s important to you and how to achieve what it takes to get there. If you’re stuck on how to set goals, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 7 helpful tips to keep you motivated to crush them.

1. Make your goal specific

Setting vague goals like “I want a new job” or “I want to find a better job” may seem like a good idea at the time, but they’re not going to help anyone get anywhere. Instead, try setting specific goals with steps in between them: “Apply for 3 jobs in my field this week,” or even better, “Start researching companies I might want to work for.”

2. Measure your progress

Know where you stand! Sometimes getting lost in the details of a project can be overwhelming—especially if they’re not great details! But if you don’t measure where you are against where you want to be, how will anyone know when they need to step in and help? You wouldn’t bake an entire cake without measuring first (right?)

3. Make your goals attainable and be realistic

The point of setting goals is not to make yourself feel bad about what you can’t do—the point is to stretch yourself and grow into someone who can do it! So if you’re setting a goal that seems totally out of reach, re-evaluate. Is it worth setting at all? If so, how can you make it more realistic?

4. Stay relevant – is this for YOU?

Goals should always come from within—so if there’s something you want to do that doesn’t feel like an authentic expression of who YOU are right now, maybe let it go for now and revisit later when you’re more ready for it. But don’t be afraid to dream big! You never know where life will take you!

5. Set an appropriate timeline

When setting your goals, defining a solid time frame will only benefit your progress without leaving you feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to get it all done at once! You can break things down into smaller chunks and tackle them one at a time.

6. Find someone who’s been there, done that

Draw inspiration from the people who have already accomplished the goals you’re seeking. Ask for tips and tricks and ask questions about what they wish they could have done differently. This can be a huge motivator when things get tough – AND REMEMBER: if they could do it, so can you!

7. Stay positive!

It’s easy to fall into a negative mindset when things aren’t going your way, but we all know that the power of positive thinking can be so incredibly powerful. Don’t forget about the beauty of manifesting your outcomes and being intentional with your goals! Consider writing down your achievements, thoughts, and intentions so you can put them into action. Keep going!

By establishing some simple, effective rules in your goal-setting journey, there’s no doubt you’ll find yourself accomplishing all of the amazing things you’re dreaming of right now. Remember, you used to wish for the life you’re living right now… and look at you… doing it (and well, we might add).

Let’s do this!

What to Do Your First Week of College

Surviving the hectic rush of move-in day, you’ve recycled the cardboard boxes, hung your clothes in the closet, and waved goodbye as your folks drove away. Now what? Check out our to-do list for your first week of college.

1. Get settled in your dorm

You probably feel a combination of excitement and nervousness living in a new space. Use some of your down time to make it feel a little more like home! Some suggestions: decorate it with some of your favorite photos, hang twinkly lights, or organize your desk. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t feel settled right away; it may take a few days (or even a few weeks).

2. Introduce yourself to new people

The great thing about being an incoming freshman is that everyone is looking to make new friends, so don’t worry about putting yourself out there. The sooner you jump into the social scene, the easier your transition into college life! You could meet your future BFF or spouse during the first week of college…you never know!

3. Attend as many events as you can

Many colleges have a welcome week with events intended for new students. From movie nights to convocation ceremonies to class picnics, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Grab a few new friends, and go for it! Still not convinced? There is pretty much always free food.

4. Explore your campus

Not only will you familiarize with your surroundings, but you will locate lots of useful amenities such as library printing, nearest convenience stores, secret study spots, laundry rooms, and more. Having this knowledge in your back pocket will come in handy when things get busy. You should also use this as an opportunity to seek out the different buildings on your class schedule. That way, you won’t get lost on the first day of classes!

5. Set boundaries with your roommate

Consider drawing up a roommate contract when you move in – you can ask your RA if you need a template. It should cover expected ‘quiet times’ for studying, cleaning responsibilities, rules for having guests over, and any other things you consider relevant. Even if you don’t want to draw up a formal contract, make sure you sit down with your roommate and openly discuss your expectations and preferences with regard to noise, cleanliness, and more.

6. Get your textbooks

Some of your classes may jump into lecture on the first day, so you want to be prepared with the required readings! Be sure to explore more affordable options (such as renting, buying used books, and so on) before paying full price. There also may be discount book stores around campus or even older students on social media trying to sell their textbooks!

7. Know your resources before you need them

Find out who your academic advisor is and how to schedule an appointment with them. Be aware of add/drop dates for classes! You should also locate the health center, career services, student union, and tutoring center. This way, when your schedule picks up pace and you need help ASAP, you will know where to go!

8. Check your campus safety procedures

If you haven’t already, you should sign up for campus police alerts. This is a great way to know about crimes as soon as they are reported. By remaining aware of what is going on, you can be wise in when and where you decide to go places. It also allows for the community to stay united and alert in a state of emergencies.

Your first week of college will go by in a flash, so take advantage of this time to start off on the right foot!

What Is Privilege?

When logging on to social media or watching the news, you may often hear the word “privilege” being used. For many, this can be a confusing concept to grasp. Learning about privilege will allow us to become more open-minded, and move towards a world that is more inclusive and empathetic to the challenges of others. Here we will outline some basic principles to better understand privilege. Keep in mind, this is just a foundation, and there is still so much more to learn about this topic.

Checking Your Privilege

When checking your privilege, you may realize it’s intersectional. Meaning, it’s possible for people to be oppressed and privileged at the same time. Privilege can be hard to decipher on your own, and that’s why it’s essential to listen and remain open-minded to people who experience oppression. When you learn about the ways privilege has existed in your life, you may think, “This isn’t a privilege; this is just basic human decency.” You’re absolutely right! The point is, not everyone is treated that way, and that’s why it is privilege.

The checklist below gives some examples of the different kinds of privilege people can have. This is not a comprehensive list; meaning, it doesn’t detail all the different ways in which oppressed people suffer. These are just examples to get you thinking about all the different ways privilege plays a role in your life.

 White race, ethnicity, and culture privilege

☐ I don’t feel threatened by the police.

☐ I have never been followed in a store because someone was suspicious of me.

☐ People don’t ask me to speak on behalf of my entire race.

☐ I don’t worry about going to prison unless I commit a serious crime.

☐ My race is widely represented in the media.

☐ I don’t really think about my race or ethnicity.

☐ People know how to pronounce my name, and I have never been perceived as a threat because of my name.

Cisgender privilege

☐ I can use public restrooms and locker rooms without fear of verbal abuse or assault.

☐ People know how to refer to me without asking first.

☐ I do not have to worry that my gender expression will make people around me uncomfortable.

☐ I have the ability to walk through the world and blend in, without being whispered about, pointed at, or laughed at because of my gender expression.

☐ If I go to the hospital, I do not have to worry that my gender will keep me from receiving appropriate treatment.

☐ I am able to purchase clothes that I like without being refused service or mocked by staff.

☐ I am legally recognized as a gender.

Male/male passing privilege

☐ I can walk the streets without the threat of sexual harassment.

☐ I am not expected to spend a lot of time and money on my appearance. 

☐ People do not make unsolicited comments about my body.

☐ I am not shamed if I choose not to spend a lot of time and money on my appearance. 

☐ When I speak up, my opinions are heard and respected equally to other people’s.

☐ I can assert myself and set boundaries without being called “drama queen,” “hysterical,” “bitch” or someone attributing it to “my time of the month.” 

☐ I do not have to fear sexual violence.

☐ At work, I don’t often have to worry about harassment from customers, coworkers, or bosses.

☐ I don’t have to worry about being perceived as sexual because of my clothes or body.

Straight privilege

☐ I have never had to hide or reveal my sexuality.

☐ I receive public recognition or support of my romantic relationships.

☐ There are role models of my sexual orientation and accurate representations of people with whom I can identify.

☐ I don’t have to research whether or not my sexuality is legal when choosing travel destinations.

☐ I can safely and comfortably hold hands and kiss my partner in public without fear of hostile or violent reactions. 

☐ People don’t ask me how I have sex or how I could have children.

☐ I have never had to “come out” to strangers who make assumptions about my sexuality. 

☐ I can easily find a neighborhood in which people will accept me.

☐ If I raise, adopt, or teach children, no one will assume that I will somehow force them into my sexuality.

Religious privilege

☐ I can expect to have time off school or work to celebrate religious holidays.

☐ I can worship freely without worry of violence or threats.

☐ Music and television programs related to my religious holidays are readily available.

☐ I am never asked to speak on behalf of all members of my faith.

☐ I can go into any career without it being associated or explained by my faith.

☐ When I practice religious customs, I am not questioned, mocked, or inhibited.

☐ I have never been called a “terrorist” because of my faith.

Thin privilege

☐ I can go to the doctor and have my symptoms taken seriously without being prescribed weight loss.

☐ People don’t assume that I am lazy or unhealthy because of my size.

☐ I can comfortably sit in movie theater seats, airplane seats, etc. without thinking about it.

☐ I can find clothing I like in my size for reasonable prices.

☐ Strangers do not comment, laugh, or whisper about my body.

☐ The media doesn’t describe my body shape as part of an “epidemic.”

☐ I can eat what I want in public and not have others make assumptions about my eating habits.

☐ I don’t feel pressure from family and friends to change my body size through diets or dangerous surgeries. 

☐ If I choose to love myself, people don’t tell me I’m promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.

Non-disabled privilege

☐ I easily move through public spaces without any pre-planning.

☐ I do not have to worry about people being uncomfortable because of my disability.

☐ People do not talk down to me, use patronizing language, or offer unsolicited help for tasks.

☐ I can succeed in situations without other people being surprised by that success or using the word “despite.”

☐ People don’t make fun of me because of my ability.

☐ People don’t get frustrated when I need to try something again or ask for clarity.

☐ There are ample role models of my ability to whom I can aspire

Economic privilege

☐ I have knowledge and access to community resources. 

☐ I have access to transportation that will get me where I need to go.

☐ My decision to go or not to go to college wasn’t entirely based on financial determinants.

☐ Whenever I moved out of my home, it was voluntary, and I had another home to move into.

☐ People do not assume I am unintelligent based on the dialect I grew up speaking.

☐ I can go to the supermarket and buy all the healthy foods I want.

☐ I can update my wardrobe with new clothes to match current styles and trends.

☐ When I advocate my class to politicians, I do not have to worry about being seen as looking for a handout.

☐ The schools I’ve attended had updated textbooks and computers.

All in all, you might feel uncomfortable acknowledging your privilege. That’s okay. Though you didn’t choose your privilege, you can choose to challenge the systems that keep people oppressed. Being open to these uncomfortable conversations is a great first step in recognizing adversity and overcoming injustice. The core of our mission is to help all students as they navigate their path to college and career success, regardless of where they started. We stand behind the belief that education is the foundation for creating a better tomorrow. 

To learn more about privilege, check out some of these videos: 

The Importance of Asking for Help

Growing up in a culture that praises independence, asking for help may feel like the ultimate defeat. You should be able to handle everything by yourself, right? WRONG! We’re here to remind you that asking for help is not a bad thing. Here are some reasons to ask for help and how to do so.

Why Ask for Help?

You’re only one person

You don’t have to tackle the world all by yourself! It’s okay to ask for help when you need it. In fact, we encourage it. Sometimes, having things under our complete control can feel empowering. However, being human means that you have limitations, and trying to do everything all by yourself is going to leave you completely drained.

People love to help

Another thing about being human? It’s in our nature to help each other; we literally love it. Many of the world’s greatest thinkers have agreed that humans gain a certain sense of happiness and fulfillment when helping others. And there is even science to back it up. So don’t be afraid to ask for help! You aren’t burdening anyone; you are giving people a chance to take pleasure in their altruism.

It’s a chance to grow

Not only will you receive the assistance you need, but you will also be learning from the experience! Whether you’re receiving tutoring for your Calculus class or going to counseling, you are doing something that will improve your life and overall well being.

How Do You Ask for Help?

Identify what you need

Be specific, and make a list if you think that will organize your thoughts. When you can clearly articulate the assistance you need, your professor, counselor, classmate, or friend will have a better idea of how to guide you. You are helping them help you! 

Find the right person to ask

This is an important step in asking for help. Especially if you are looking for advice or guidance, you want to make sure you are going to the right person equipped with the information you need. If you’re looking for extra academic help, approach your professors or TAs. If you’re in need of mental health resources, reach out to your health center on campus. If you’re too ill to go to the store for medicine, request a favor from a friend or roommate.

Shut down Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is when an individual has feelings of being a “fraud,” and doubts their own accomplishments. These emotions may be preventing you from asking for help because you feel like you need to “prove” yourself. Or maybe you’re under the false assumption that you’re the only one that needs help. Don’t believe these lies!