Wednesday, October 27, 2010

4 sure-fire strategies for a successful internship at a startup

Congrats! You’ve just landed an internship with a growing company. While you look forward to your first day, you know that your daily grind will be different from your friends’ stints at Fortune 500 companies. But maybe you’re not exactly what to expect, even after your interview. Here’s an insider’s take on what you need to know to thrive in a start-up culture even before your first day on the job:

1. Think Like an Entrepreneur – An entrepreneurial mindset is always an asset, whether you’re in the office or on the go. Entrepreneurs tend to think about the big picture, while ensuring that even the smallest details are delegated. Entrepreneurs tend to always ask questions and are willing to learn from others, and you should be eager to do the same. Ask to read the company business plan, and stay up-to-date on recent trends and newsworthy events through industry blogs. See the office through the eyes of the person who started it all, and you’ll have a greater appreciation for the vision of the company, and the small details you’ll be working on to make sure success is in sight.

2. Get Organized – The one thing that all entrepreneurs have in common is that they’re always busy. Even if you’re boss doesn’t ask, send a weekly report highlighting your accomplishments for the week. Not only does this help your boss know what you’ve accomplish and where you’re at on projects, but it’s a record of successes you can put on your resume.

3. Be a Jack-of-all-Trades and a Master of One – In a growing organization, there is an emphasis on the all-hands on deck approach. Some days you’ll need to help with administrative work, and other days you might be running errands or event planning. While you should always be on the lookout for opportunities to help where necessary, it’s ok to highlight your skills. If you’re studying public relations and you can write-up a press release that gets journalists’ attention, make sure your boss knows. While it’s good to be a jack-of-all-trades, make sure your boss knows about the one (or two!) skills you’ve mastered.

4. Pitch It – The company you’re working for exists because the owners decided to take a good idea and make it happen. Your boss shouldn’t be shy to the art of pitching ideas, and neither should you. If you see an idea that can be executed, write a plan of action and pitch it to your boss. Back your plan up with research and ideas for execution.

The start-up environment is fast-paced and action packed. Make the most of your internship by being a team player, using your best skills and thinking like your boss and you’ll be a start-up veteran before your semester is over!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to Be a Good Social Media Intern (Without Even Trying!)

Put Your Skills to Work!

It’s a fact: business owners need help with social media. Companies are finding that social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and You Tube are proving to be a cost-effective way for businesses to advertise, acquire customers, and generate sales.

Needless to say, many of them are looking for web-savvy interns to navigate the online social channels and take charge of their social media strategy. And that’s where you come in.

Chances are you’ve been using Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube for your personal enjoyment for years. Now is a better time than ever to put these finely tuned skills to work. But are you unsure how to translate your social media capabilities into a career? Consider these tips on how to put your pre-existing skills to work and become an effective social media intern.

Show you’re tech and social media savvy. Keep up with influential technology blogs (TechCrunch, Mashable, etc.) and always have your fingers on the pulse of the next big social media trend.

Constantly re-evaluate the strategy. Your job in social media is never done; pay close attention to the online climate and suggest fresh, new directions to take the strategy. Keep in mind they may not always get used and you might have to pitch a few ideas at once.

Create a conversation. Get online and engage your company’s audience. Listen to what they have to say, whether positive or negative, and react accordingly. Keep track of valid feedback and present it to your manager for consideration.

Show managers that social media translates to sales. Look for indisputable proof that your efforts are bringing profitable results. Use trackable links, analytics programs, and click maps to show your strategy is working. Comparative data speaks volumes, so keep track of “before and after” numbers, whether they’re the number of views on You Tube, total Twitter followers, or net sales generated through Facebook ads.

And given the growing importance of these social media sites as marketing channels for businesses, if you prove you’re worthy, you just might end up with a full time gig!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

3 Tips for Avoiding Year End Chaos (And You Know its Coming)

It happens every year around this time: inevitable “craziness” among your business operations. We’re talking about hectic holiday orders, budgetary breakdowns, and elaborate events that come with the closing of another year. Whether you’re in retail, customer service, or any field in between, it seems no matter how far in advance you plan you’ll never be prepared for the rush.

But before you gear up to trudge through another year’s end, consider enlisting the help of an Urban Intern. Capable, quick to learn, and eager to assist, an Urban Intern can help you shuffle in a new year of business with ease. To make the most of your extra set of hands, consider the following tips for hiring an Urban Intern, and learn why this time of year is better than any other to do so.

Plan, Plan, and Plan Again
Determine the scope of help you’ll need by making two separate lists; one that outlines “ordinary” jobs, and one that outlines “year end” specific jobs. Next, cross off tasks on your “year end” list that you and your staff can realistically tackle, and circle those you can delegate. Keep in mind that the goal is to save time, so chose tasks that don’t require a lot of “hand-holding,” elaborate training, or constant supervision. Read on for some specific ideas.

Put Your Urban Intern to Work
In addition to the unique year-end needs of your business, consider the following:

• Processing the increase in customer service requests
• Assisting with holiday outreach to clients (mailings, email communications, etc.)
• Additional call center and email support
• Event planning and production
• Inventory control
• Processing online returns
• Fielding product and service Q&A from customers

Start the Hiring Process Early (And that Means Now).
With college students planning on coming home for the holidays and experienced professionals looking to further their career, the end of the year is a prime time to recruit extra help. Furthermore, you’ll have a troop of helpers on hand should you need additional help to kick off 2011!

Social Media Tip: Find an Urban Intern to Help Build Your Blog

Give your blog the TLC it needs!

Do you have a blog on your website? If you're at all focused on social media marketing, you probably do. A blog with thoughtful content is a great way to build your brand and have an interactive dialogue with your business community. But like everything else with social media, to execute properly takes TIME. Here are some tips on how hiring an Urban Intern can help.

• Think of some topics for your blog. Create a quick outline with some bullet points and hand it over. While at least initially you may need to spend a few minutes editing the posts, the process will likely move a lot quicker than trying to find time you don't have to write.

• Repurpose that content! Once you have that great content, stretch the mileage. Ask your Urban Intern to include it in a weekly newsletter or a daily FeedBurner blast. You can also offer to contribute it to other sites. The possibilities are endless once you have the material in hand.

• Monitor and Respond: Once you start to regularly blog, you want to keep an eye on the reception and traffic. Did some posts resonate more than others? Were dialogues started that need a response? Add this kind of tracking to the list of blog-related tasks for your Urban Intern.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

From Create Other Income Streams

We found this great post by one of our advertisers, DailyWorth, and thought it worth sharing. Enjoy! If you like this, click here for more.

By MP Dunleavey | Tuesday May 04, 2010

More than a paycheck
In today's unpredictable job market and economy, it's smart to think about developing multiple streams of income.

Whether starting a side business, becoming a consultant or learning to invest, you can capitalize on your existing skills (and time) to increase your overall net worth.

Risks and rewards
Any new income source can take years to show even a small return. Consider this conversation a seed in your mind to help you evaluate your options—and build future returns, one year, five years or even 20 years out.

Every investment is a risk. Amanda Steinberg, DailyWorth's founder, has started five businesses in the past 10 years--two of which are successful and growing. The other three were learning experiences and, well, costly failures. Do not invest time or money unless you've calculated that you can afford to lose it.

Listen up
Last week, Amanda (photo, left) interviewed Jacquette Timmons (right), author of Financial Intimacy, MBA, and CEO of Sterling Investment Management, Inc.


In this 15-minute podcast Amanda and Jacquette explore the specifics having multiple streams of income, from low-risk options like consulting to higher-risk options like real estate investment.

Your move
Do you have more than one stream of income? Share the What, Where, When, How and Why with the DailyWorth community.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Video Blog: Talking Interns with Lindsey Pollak!

This week we are thrilled to feature career career and workplace expert (and Urban Interns success story!) Lindsey Pollak, who shares her thoughts on internships and hiring trends today.

Lindsey Pollak, Career and Workplace Expert from Urban Interns on Vimeo.

Applying for and Managing Seasonal Opportunities

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It might not seem like it, but now is actually the right time to be looking for an applying to seasonal opportunities. For people looking to supplement their income, test-drive a new job, or add experience to their resume, seasonal opportunities are a convenient option. And because the businesses that offer them usually hire new batches of employees every year, jobs are reliable and relatively easy to find. Here’s how to go about it:

Be early. Inquire about position openings six to eight weeks in advance of busy season. Approach store owners or receptionists and ask for applications, and keep an eye on local press for advertised opportunities.

Be flexible. Your willingness to adapt to scheduling needs is your greatest asset to seasonal businesses. But be honest; if you can only work two days a week, or you’re hoping to transition to full-time, tell them upfront. If a business can’t offer as much money or as many hours as you’d hoped, you might consider taking two temporary jobs. If that’s the case, keep your schedule transparent to both employers and establish your respective time commitments immediately.

Be smart. Shopping malls are an obvious option for seasonal employment, but think about all the other places, services and events that are more popular during certain times of the year (weddings, ski resorts, snow removal, delivery services, ice cream shops, amusement parks, landscaping, moving, school supplies, etc.). Anticipate these businesses’ needs. Also keep in mind the traits they’re looking for. Since most seasonal jobs tend to include customer-facing roles, good communication skills are essential. They’ll also want team players who are comfortable in a fast-moving environment, so market yourself accordingly.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Video Blog: Talking Interns with Ray Madronio of

The latest installment in our video blog interview series: Ray Madronio of shares his thoughts on his company's culture and why Urban Interns is important for his business.

How to Develop Your Personal Pitch.

You made it past the online screen – check. Now you’re about to be interviewed in person. So all the careful work you’ve done up to this point to present yourself so carefully on paper and online – crafting a beautifully formatted resume; writing eloquent and spell-checked cover letters; and combing through your social networking profiles to make sure only the most professional version of “you” is publicly available – is basically moot. They know all of that information, and everyone else that you’re up against has done the same. Now you need to go in with something strong. You need to develop your “pitch”.

What is your pitch? It’s your personal statement that conveys who you are and why you’re perfect for the job. It shouldn’t take longer than 2 minutes to deliver. And it should include the following:
1. Experience
2. Strengths
3. Awards/honors
4. Near- and/or long-term goals

One important point: only mention any of the above to the extent it’s relevant to the position or the interviewer. So if you’re applying for a part-time admin gig at a literary agency and you ultimately want to be publicist, definitely mention it – they’ll love the long-term view. But if you’re doing it to pay the med school bills and you ultimately want to be a veterinarian (nothing wrong with that!), leave it out of your pitch…it’s not relevant.

An example of a good pitch: “My name is Rachel Berry. I am the lead soprano in my school’s Glee Club, New Directions. I am also its captain, and under my leadership, our team won at Sectionals last year. My career goal is to be a Tony-Award winning performer on Broadway.”

Now, naturally, all items on the above list could take a person 5-10 minutes each, or longer, to really delve into. And you should – after your initial pitch. But if your interviewer doesn’t “have you at hello”, your entire interview won’t last much longer than your pitch – and that’s not usually a good thing!

The typical first question in any interview is, “Tell me a little about yourself.” Perfect. They’re asking an open-ended question to see how you handle it. You’ve got this covered! Give your pitch, do it succinctly, and then ask the interviewer if they’d like to hear about any of those items in more detail. If they say yes, chances are your pitch worked – or at least your interview will last a few minutes longer ☺.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Do You Need Help with Social Media?

According to recent activity on Urban Interns, you do.

As a business owner today, you’re inundated with information about all the social media tools out there. Once you’ve figured things out- either by hiring an expert or by doing your own research- you begin to wonder how to best execute on these time consuming tasks?

Hire an Urban Intern.

Over the last several months, we've been watching a steady flow of businesses look for help with social media. Sounds like something you're interested in, but wondering how to get started? A few tips for effectively leveraging Urban Interns:

Identify Channels:
It’s not enough to say “you want help with social media.” That’ll get you nowhere. When bringing on an intern or part-timer, you want to make sure that you’re very specific about what areas of social media you need help with. Do you need a blogger, someone to maintain your profile online, someone to tweet for you? (Believe us, we’ve seen postings for all of these).

Specify Content:
Once you decide where to focus, take some time to think about the message you want to convey on behalf of your company. Provide a short-list of topics, headlines, or key points that you want communicated.

Track Results
: As a business owner, you’re already used to looking at metrics for your business. This area is no different. Before pressing go on your project, be clear about what you’re trying to achieve through social media and how you’ll measure it. Do you want to blog once a week, attract 1000 twitter followers, develop a facebook fan page? Being clear about your goals makes it easier to evaluatie whether hiring an Urban Interns was a good decision.
(And based on the feedback we’re hearing from business owners, we’re sure it will be.)

Are You a Bottleneck?

3 Tips for Effectively Managing Urban Interns

Ever hire someone (a consultant, a vendor) only to find that there's WAY too much project management invovled in doing the work? Too much attention may seem like a good problem to have, but let’s be honest…anything that slows down progress is simply a waste of time. It’s one thing to have a responsible point person. It’s entirely something else when the person in the middle is just that—in the middle.

But now look at this question in the context of your team and ask yourself—are you the bottleneck? Are you the one slowing things down? If you’ve hired an Urban Intern (or are about to), you did so for a reason—because you’re busy and need help! Check out the following and make sure the person in the way of productivity is not YOU.

Too hands-on? Starting off a new work relationship with hands-on management is a good idea. It’s important to specify goals, expectations, and have regular check-ins to answer questions. But at the point where you’ve seen nothing but good work and your Urban Intern can’t move forward without having the zillionth check-in, it might be time to loosen the reigns a bit in the spirit of keeping things moving.

Acting as a middleman? Along the lines of seeing good work, once your role as a manager becomes simply forwarding along work to someone else on your team, (colleague, an outside vendor or partner) take it as a sign that it’s time to streamline the communication and get yourself OUT OF THE WAY.

Taking too long to make decisions? There are still many areas where you’ll need to be intimately involved in the details. For example, if you hired someone to write some blog posts, you want to review them before they go online. If you asked for research needed to inform a purchase, you’re going to need to digest than info before moving forward. That’s well and good, but keep in mind that the ball is in your court and next steps can’t be made until you get yourself moving.

If you’ve been wondering why things around you aren’t moving quickly and any (or all!) of the above sound like you, you may have just found your answer!