HOD Capstone Demonstration Day Tips

The HOD Capstone Internship Demonstration Day showcases the design projects students have developed over the course of this semester. Students prepare a presentation and poster to share their design project with an audience comprised of fellow classmates, Vanderbilt faculty, and supervisors from various Nashville organizations. Read below for tips on how to prepare for the final presentation and poster.

HOD Capstone Internship Demonstration Day  Photos by: Susan Urmy

The Presentation

The 7-10 minute presentation will serve as way to demonstrate to your audience how your design project works and the impact it has had on your organization.

  1. Practice. Spend time practicing your presentation. The presentation should feel conversational in nature, but you will still be expected to effectively share your ideas and demonstrate your knowledge of human centered design. Practicing highlighting your main points can improve the overall effectiveness of your presentation delivery.
  2. Dress professionally or in business casual attire. You are showcasing your work, so make sure you present yourself in a professional manor.
  3. Arrive early. You will need time to set up your poster and settle in before the presentations start, so plan on arriving at 8:30 am.
  4. Slow down. Speaking too fast can take away from the effectiveness of your presentation delivery. Keep your tone steady and be aware of moments when you might begin to speed up. Practice helps with this!
  5. Make eye contact. This helps you connect with your audience and keeps them engaged with your presentation.
  6. Breathe. Taking time to pause and breathe during your presentation can serve many functions. It can serve as an opportunity to check and make sure you are still on-track, slow you down if you start talking too fast, and give the audience a moment to think about a point you just made.

 

HOD Capstone Internship Demonstration Day  Photos by: Susan Urmy

The Poster

The tri-fold poster should supplement your presentation and highlight key experiences and learning from the semester.

  1. Avoid too much text. Having too much text can make it difficult for audience members to follow along and pull out the major concepts and ideas you want to demonstrate.
  2. Make it readable. You want your audience to be able to read the text that you do incorporate into your poster. Make sure the design of your poster, including font size and layout, allows for audience members to clearly view all of your poster’s elements.
  3. Be creative. Use pictures and info graphics to supplement your writing in a creative and aesthetically pleasing way.
  4. Don’t overwhelm. While creativity is encouraged, you do not want your poster to be overwhelming to look at. Don’t add too many contrasting pictures, colors, fonts, and borders, etc. It should be eye-catching but not distracting.
  5. Proofread. Make sure to double-check your poster before Demonstration Day. This is an easy way to avoid simple mistakes in your work, which can take away from the quality of your overall presentation.

HOD Capstone Internship Demonstration Day  Photos by: Susan Urmy

Good luck and let us know if you have questions or concerns. The HOD internship office is open 8:30-4:30 Monday-Friday on the 4th Floor of the Sony Building.

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HOD Capstone Internship Demonstration Day

On December 8th, 2017, the HOD Capstone Internship held its first Capstone Demonstration Day. Students who completed the Capstone Internship in Fall 2017 presented their human centered design projects to an audience of their fellow classmates, Vanderbilt faculty, and supervisors from various Nashville organizations. The Wyatt Rotunda was full of energy all morning as students and members of the community engaged with each other and learned about the work the interns completed at their organizations.

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Each student created a presentation and a poster to showcase the semester-long project they implemented utilizing a human-centered design approach.  In addition to presenting their own work, students learned from their peers by listening to each others presentations, viewing their posters, and asking questions.

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Reva Alperson, Brookdale

 

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Aaron Kwong, Goldner Associates

 

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Kyle Bartholomew, G7 Entertainment Marketing

 

The event ended with a concluding address by Professor Bob Innes, founder of the HOD program. He shared stories from the first HOD graduating class and how the HOD program has shaped so many lives and organizations for the better.

The first HOD Capstone Internship Demonstration Day was a huge success, mainly in part to the students and all of their hard work throughout the semester. In addition, a very special thank you goes out to all of the individuals who worked to make this event possible.

 

 

3rd Annual London Tea Party

 

London Tea Party
The HOD Capstone Team was at it again with our third annual London Tea Party!

Held in the cozy Fireside Reading Room of the Peabody Library, students interested in interning in London met with HOD Capstone London alumni to discuss their experiences of interning abroad.

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With a round of trivia, a session of FAQ’s, and plenty of tea and biscuits, HOD London alumni shared firsthand knowledge to prospective London interns about the what is was really like to live and work in the United Kingdom for their HOD Capstone experience.

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HOD Capstone London alums share their experiences and tips to prospective HOD London interns.

Interested in interning in London? Read what a couple of HOD London Alumni had to say…

“GO TO LONDON!!! I’m sure your internship in Nashville is fine, but doing it in another country with another culture was such an incredible opportunity and one I’d recommend to anyone and everyone.” – Elissa Hakemack

“Even if the work doesn’t match up with your career path perfectly, the opportunity to work in London and expand your perspective of the work world is completely worth it.”  Alex Grant

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Biscuits and English Tea served for an afternoon high tea

For additional questions, reach out to hod.internships@vanderbilt.edu, and also, these past London interns are happy to help!

Alexander Grant alexander.t.grant@vanderbilt.edu
Elissa Hakemack elissa.r.hakemack@vanderbilt.edu
Charlotte Kwon charlotte.h.kwon@vanderbilt.edu
Rebecca Krieger rebecca.krieger@vanderbilt.edu
Lois You lois.you@vanderbilt.edu
Megan Mark megan.k.mark@vanderbilt.edu
Pauline Leeuwenburg pauline.s.leeuwenburg@vanderbilt.edu
Michael Mayer michael.f.mayer@vanderbilt.edu
Rebecca Jacobson rebecca.a.jacobson@vanderbilt.edu
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The Queen made her appearance!

 

 

Preparing for the HOD Capstone Internship Fair

The HOD Internship Fair is Wednesday, January 30th, and will include representatives from a variety of organizations. Read below for tips on how to prepare for the fair, what to do during the fair, and how to best follow-up after the experience.

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Tips to Prepare for the HOD Internship Fair

An internship fair is a unique and interesting place to look for internship opportunities or information about the internship market. Students will improve their chances of making good contacts at this event by following these suggestions:

Before the Fair

  1. Edit your resume and visit the Career Center (vanderbilt.edu/career) walk in hours for additional feedback.
  2. Print at least 10 copies of your resume on resume/bond paper. Vanderbilt printing services offers this service. Be sure to give them 24 hours’ notice (http://printingservices.vanderbilt.edu).
  3. Prepare your response to “Tell me about yourself” in a 30 second elevator speech (refer to your HOD 2400 coursework and/or your HOD Internship Search Process Worksheet to refresh your memory).
  4. Develop responses to common interview questions including: What industry are you interested in and why? Why are you interested in working for our company? What are your personal strengths/weaknesses? Develop a response for a time when you have failed and what you learned from the situation.
  5. Practice your interview responses with friends and/or visit https://www.vanderbilt.edu//career/commodore-exchange/making-connections/interviewing/
  6. Review the list of attending employers and research the ones you are particularly interested in. Research the contact name on LinkedIN so you can customize questions at the internship fair. These steps demonstrate initiative and market research.
  7. Develop a plan of action for the top 5 sites you want to connect with at the fair. It will be crowded and this will ease your anxiety.

During the Fair

  1. First impressions are critical. Conservative, well-pressed, tailored business attire is your best choice.
  2. Arrive early or right on time to the internship fair, as not all employers will stay until the end.
  3. Visit the employers you are most interested in first.
  4. Be open. Be willing to explore sites you may not have researched, but draw your interest at the fair.
  5. When you are meeting with employers, chewing gum, eating, or drinking are inappropriate.
  6. Do not travel in pairs or groups. Employers hire individuals and want to speak with you without your friends.
  7. If you are in line to speak with an employer, wait 2-3 steps behind the person who is currently speaking with them.
  8. Approach an employer with confidence, introduce yourself, and shake their hand.
  9. Do not ask if the internship is paid or not, unless the discussion is prompted by employer.
  10. As you close your conversation with the employer, ask what the next step in the interview process will be and get their business card.
  11. Make notes (on the back of their business cards) after speaking with an employer before moving on to the next one (i.e. name of person you spoke with, important considerations/talking points). This will be helpful for thank you notes, evaluating your options, and preparing for interviews.
  12. Remember, the employers are at the fair because they are looking for someone and they are all hoping that it is you!

After the Fair

  1. Say thank you and thank you again. Write a thank you message to the employers you connected with.
  2. In the thank you card, remind the employer that you met them at the job fair, express your appreciation, and give a short reminder on your qualifications and why you are interested in the job and attach a copy of your resume.
  3. If you are enrolled in the Self-Directed Search class, you must complete the HOD Capstone Internship Fair Worksheet and submit a typed copy on Brightspace with your Brightspace Self-Directed Search class check-in.

Other Resources

 

Good luck and let us know if you have questions or concerns. The HOD internship office is open 8:30-4:30 Monday-Friday in the Sony Building, 4th Floor.

Top 5 Employer Feedback Takeaways from the Internship Fair

fair-supervisor-f17Would you like to know what employers thought of HOD students at the Internship Fair?

Here are 5 takeaways you can apply moving forward with the HOD Internship search:

  1. They are very likely to offer you a job.

93.93% of employer responders stated that they were either “Definitely” or “Very Likely” going to hire an HOD intern for the summer/fall. The odds are in your favor, but you must follow-up with employers you hear from via email/phone to continue the process smoothly. Do not take longer than 24 hours to respond to professional contacts. Remember, even it you are not interested, you stand to gain interview experience and to build relationships. Should you choose not to confirm with the site, you should send a letter of regret as follow-up communication.

2. Some parts of your resume are more important than others.

According to our employer feedback, here is what you should emphasize on your cover letter and resume:

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You might be wondering how to show “work ethic” or “initiative” on your resume. Your implementation of course projects and/or role in extracurricular activities could demonstrate these skills. You can be creative with how to showcase these attributes on your resume.

3. The most important qualities employers look for in an intern are:

1) Professional Work Ethic 2) Oral/Written Communication 3) Teamwork/Collaboration

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4. According to employers, your greatest area for development is conducting stronger market research.

It is important to employers that you have researched their business. You should demonstrate a handle on current, relevant market research before the internship fair and even more critically, your interview. Having a working understanding of current market trends specific to the industry/company you are applying to work in shows knowledge, initiative, and interest beyond meeting the requirements of simply being a student. It increases the likelihood that employers will take you seriously for hiring as an intern and potentially for a full-time position. You will also have excellent material to customize your list of questions for the employer.

Market research is critical to the success of any business. It helps companies understand their consumer, examine their competition, and develop innovative strategies to maximize impact and minimize risk. These are all skills that you will be expected to demonstrate in your HOD internship as an employee, and in your coursework as a student.

5. What sets our HOD interns apart?

We asked our Internship Fair employers what keeps them coming back to Vanderbilt to speak with HOD intern candidates, and have a sample of their responses. Insider tip: these are skills/abilities you may want to highlight in interviews.

“HOD interns are able to work on a wide range of issues at our agency, and they do so in a professional and competent manner.”

“They are well-rounded students who can transition into various areas of business.”

“Most of our interns come with a strong desire to have an impact on the company and to engage from day one. This is very important to us.”

“Having an intern for 30 hours a week versus 8-10 sets the HOD program apart from many other internship opportunities. The interns learn to become part of the organization, and not just an outsider working with us for a short time. That mindset leads to greater productivity and a greater fulfillment in the product.”

“Structured, high-performing candidates that add value through their time but especially through their primary program deliverable.”

“It is clear that HOD interns, above and beyond interns or volunteers that we may find from any other source, are hungry learners and are asking themselves if they can make something even better rather than just fulfilling the tasks that are asked of them.”

Finally, don’t forget the HOD Internship Office is here to support you if you have any follow-up questions or would like to set up a meeting to discuss this material further. The HOD office is open Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:30.

 

“A Day in the Life” by Ria Jagasia

Intern Spotlight

THE HOD “DAY IN THE LIFE” FEATURES STUDENTS WHO HAVE COMPLETED THE HOD INTERNSHIP AND THEN SHARE WORDS OF WISDOM TO ILLUMINATE THEIR EXPERIENCES. THIS WEEK HIGHLIGHTS THE STORY OF RIA JAGASIA, WHO COMPLETED AN INTERNSHIP AT VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER IN THE SPRING OF 2017.
Jagasia, Ria Work Site Photo

Who: Ria Jagasia

Capstone Term: Spring 2017

Site: Quality, Safety, and Risk Prevention – Vanderbilt University Medical Center

 

What was your role as an intern?

My role as an intern varied from shadowing executives in the various QSRP departments to being an extra hand for QSRP staff by working on ongoing projects. I was able to focus on gathering data for my organizational analysis work which helped greatly when I was choosing a capstone project idea. Because of the wide network within QSRP, I was able to interact with staff that had a variety of roles in promoting the mission of quality and safety in patient care within the Medical Center.

 

What was your capstone design project for your HOD internship?

My capstone project focused on the idea of having a “Culture of Safety” within the Medical Center workplace. Having such a culture means that employees, regardless of their seniority in the organization, feel comfortable communicating with each other about issues that may arise. The goal was that medical staff will work together to prioritize the safety of a patient over other competing goals or obstacles. What I found through my data gathering process was that there was tension in the form of hierarchy barriers between nursing staff and physicians which meant nurses would be reluctant to speak up when a physician was making a mistake. For example, nurses may see doctors deliver the wrong medication or wrong dosage to the patient and not be confident enough to speak up in the presence of more experienced physician staff. This can complicate patient care and thus I saw a need to address this issue. I designed a set of online modules titled “Creating a Culture of Safety” that had sections designed to inform nurses about the importance of having a Culture of Safety and of potential communication barriers. My goal was to empower nurses to start making changes in their behaviors so that they may increase the quality of patient care via open communication with physician staff.

 

What was one of the highlights from your internship experience?

One of the highlights of my experience was being able to dive into the field of quality improvement as it was not an area I had realized existed in the healthcare space. I realized how vital it is to the way healthcare services are delivered. While QSRP had a wide network of teams, each team had an important role in driving the quality of patient care from the data teams that gathered and made sense of large amounts of patient data to other groups which were improving the use of space within the clinics to increase efficiency of care. Having experienced other internships within the Medical Center, I can definitely say this was the most rewarding experience as the information and toolkit I built over the semester was transferrable since quality improvement is important across all service industries.

 

How have you grown as a result of your internship? / How will this internship impact your future (i.e. change career, landed a job)?

As I am currently working abroad in China after graduating early from Vanderbilt, I can definitely see how experiencing a professional work environment during college has aided in my transition to my current job. While I am working in the education industry, which is very different from the healthcare industry, the professionalism skills I gained from my internship experience has helped. I can better integrate with my coworkers and, having gone through the organizational analysis process at my internship site, I am more aware of organizational structures in my current workplace. Being able to figure out how teams work and how roles are divided here has made it easier to find my place. I also am more aware of the issues in our organization’s work and have brainstormed some improvement projects that I would like to work on.

 

What are 3 pieces of advice for someone in the process of their internship search?

  1. While you don’t have to take on an internship in the field you would like your future occupation to be in, it is important to be able to transfer your skills from your internship to a future job. Be considering what types of skills you need in the field you intend to work in and pick an internship that can help you acquire those.
  2. Use the search process to familiarize yourself with the names of companies in your industry of interest. Even if you are looking for internships sites within Nashville, but intend to work elsewhere after college, many companies in the city have branches elsewhere so the research you do will certainly be valuable down the road.
  3. All interviews are great experience. I remember having one of my first phone interviews during the internship search experience and while I did not land up interning with that site, I was able to practice my phone interview skills. Many jobs conduct first-round interviews over Skype or the phone so its important to get that practice in before interviewing for your actual job!

 

How does the HOD capstone internship compare to other internships you have had?

I felt my capstone internship was more valuable as it was full-time unlike many of my previous internships I had held, and I got to really know the organization as a result. I also liked being able to experience many different sides of quality improvement as it was a field I knew little about before that semester. In addition, I developed more a more professional skillset that I can use in my current and future jobs.

“A Day in the Life” by Darko Osman

Darko Osman served as an intern in the HOD Internship Office in the fall of 2017. He came to us from the Next Steps Program at Vanderbilt University, and from day one, his presence and hard work contributed immensely to our team!
Chelsea and Darko
Darko Osman with his job coach, Chelsea Janda.

Before the conclusion of his internship, we had a quick Q&A with Darko to hear his thoughts regarding his time in our office.

Q: Hey Darko, tell us a little about yourself.

 My family is from Iraq. I speak Kurdish and English and live with 1 brother, 2 sisters, and my mom & dad. My dad owns a local Greek/Mediterranean restaurant. I like to travel, watch movies, go on youtube, music, and learn about politics.   

Q: Tell us about your daily roles as an intern in the HOD Capstone Internship office.

I helped faculty with tasks that they needed done on that day, such as copying/stapling, laminating, sorting/organizing, separating papers, checking the mail at the Commons post office, and working on projects to help with efficiency and aesthetics.

 

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Every morning, Darko would check his mailbox for daily and ongoing projects, as well as correspondence between team members.

 

Q: What do you believe is your greatest strength, and how were you able to utilize that strength during this internship?

I believe my greatest strength is memory. Professionally, I can remember what people say to me, where things go, copy codes, etc. Socially, I can remember people’s names, ask questions, and then remembering the details people tell you.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of this internship for you, and how did you overcome that challenge?

Visual barriers, not being able to visualize small tasks, using equipment that wasn’t fully accessible. I overcame this challenge by self-advocating and asking for help from staff and my job coach.

 

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Darko’s visual barriers never stopped him from completing internship projects and being successful.

 

Q: What has been your favorite part about interning in the HOD Capstone Internship office?

My favorite part was gaining new knowledge and experience in the area of internships; I also enjoyed organizing.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory that you made during your time here?

The mock interviews. Kristen set it up and encouraged me to go, while Heather & Susan helped organize it for me to participate. In the mock interview, I was asked interview questions, I got to ask questions, practice my elevator pitch and interviewing tips. This was a special and unique opportunity that I would not have been able to do if I wasn’t interning in the HOD office.

 

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Darko at the Mock Interview Event, with interviewer Christine McPherson, VP of HR at Campaign Monitor, Delivra and Emma

 

Q: What do you think is the most important thing you have learned during your time here?

The most important thing I have learned is about strengths and weaknesses. I learned that strengths are areas of work that you are good at. Weaknesses are skills and areas of work that you are not good at, but can work hard to improve. It is important to know your strengths and weaknesses because it helps you to look for the right job. I learned that a strength of mine is organizing and weakness of mine is writing

Q: What are your lifelong goals?

Graduate from college, live as independently as possible, have a big house, get an awesome job—maybe in government. This internship helped me figure out what kinds of work I like and am good at. This helps me to look for an awesome job.

 

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Darko received a Vanderbilt University padfolio to take with him on his professional journey!

 

Q: What do you want to do as a career when you finish the Next Steps program at Vanderbilt?

When I graduate from Next Steps at Vanderbilt, I want a career where the business loves to help people. I could see myself working as an assistant. I would love to work in politics or government.

Q: If you could give someone a piece of advice for how to be successful as an intern, what would it be?

I would tell someone that to be a successful intern they should work hard, listen well, and do their best at their tasks.

Darko’s contributions to our team could not be more highly regarded- as well as his constant positivity and humor that brightened all of our spirits!

 

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Darko Osman, December 2017

Thank you, Darko, for all of your hard work, determination, optimism, and creativity.

We loved having you in our office!

8 Common Interview Questions and Tips for Answering Them

Mock Interview Photo

Each step of the career marketing process is important, although the job interview is where many employers make hiring decisions. The interview gives employers the chance to evaluate how well your qualifications and skills fit into their organization. Remember YOU are the product in the interview. You have to learn to sell yourself and let the employers know you are the best candidate for the job/internship.

1. Tell me about yourself.

Do: Don’t:
· Keep your answer short – 45 seconds to 1 minute.

· Be specific about your professional experience and what you have learned.

· Align your story of self to reflect qualities the employer is looking for.

 · Tell your personal story (i.e. too many details about where you grew up or about your family)

· Emphasize unrelated job experience.

· Speak negatively about past experiences.

2400 Connection: What is your unique selling position (USP)? Use the data in your Employee Talent Profile and Marketing Analysis Assignments. Take into account the qualities sought by employers and The Vault Guide interviewing tips.

 

2. What interests you about this job?

Do: Don’t:
· Focus on the role and how it aligns with your professional interests.

· Show understanding of role expectations.

· Connect the role to specifics about the company.

· Talk about benefits, salary, commute or job/internship perks.

· Make the position sound like a stepping stone.

 

 

3. What do you know about our company so far?

Do: Don’t:
· Show knowledge of company mission and goals.

· Conduct market research and trends.

· Know the competition.

· Go in unprepared.

· Discuss secondhand information.

· Give critical feedback.

 

 

4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Do: Don’t:
· Take the opportunity to highlight a strength crucial for the position. Think about how your strengths relate to the organization’s need for an intern.

· Tell an impressive success story.

· Show that you are aware of your weakness and outline what steps you are taking to improve.

· Make claims you cannot support with evidence.

· Be too modest or too braggadocios.

· Cloak a strength as a weakness (i.e. “I work too hard” or “I am a perfectionist.”) – employers will see right through that.

 

2400 Connection: The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations. Behavioral interviewing, in fact, is said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10 percent predictive. A majority of employers are adopting this style of interviewing. Your job is to prepare and practice your approach for how to respond to a behavioral interview question using the STARS approach. (Source: http://www.quintcareers.com/behavioral_interviewing.html).

The STARS Approach

Situation or 

Task

Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
Action you took Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did — not the efforts of the team. Do not tell what you might do, tell what you did.
Results you achieved What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish?
Summarize Summarize your response with what you learned that you could reapply in the future.

 

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (This may not be asked in the internship search process, but it is an important question to think about – especially if you interview somewhere that may want to hire you after you graduate).

Do: Don’t:
· Demonstrate a level of commitment needed for the job you are applying for.

· Outline a realistic growth strategy.

· Emphasize long-term interest in the company.

· Discuss personal goals.

· Talk about being CEO of the company.

· Appear to have no plans for the future.

 

 

6. Tell me about a time when you failed.

Do: Don’t:
· Set the scene – tell what the story means.

· Identify the pivotal challenge.

· Describe what you learned.

 

· Frame it as a recurring issue.

· Complain about the working conditions.

· Place blame on others.

2400 Connection: David Hutchens suggests the following framework to turn your failure into a source of wisdom.

At the time I believed…

But I learned…

So now I …(what you are doing differently as a result)

Click the link below for his video explanation and suggestions for crafting your story.

http://www.davidhutchens.com/videos/how-to-tell-a-failure-story

 

7. Why should we hire you?

Do: Don’t:
· Point to your skills and track record that fit the position.

· Be engaging and enthusiastic.

· Demonstrate commitment.

 

· Tell them it would be a mistake not to hire you.

· Give off a nonchalant attitude.

· Mention other interviews or jobs.

2400 Connection: How would you describe your HOD (or other) major to a prospective employer? For example, Human and Organizational Development teaches students how to go into organizations and communities and identify and solve problems. Tell employers what knowledge, experience, and skills you have developed through your major(s). Tell the employer about the core classes, your track, etc. Give examples.

 

8. What questions do you have for me?

Do: Don’t:
· Prepare questions before the interview (see below).

· Ask questions related to company/market research.

· Ask questions about company culture/next steps in hiring process.

· Say, “No, I am good.”

·  Ask questions you could easily look up the answer to.

· Ask about salary (if it is an internship, it may not be paid) – but if you are asked, make sure you have a number in mind based on market research.

Sample Questions to Ask the Interviewer (adapted from the Vanderbilt Career Center):

  • What do you enjoy most about working for _______? Least?
  • What activities are routinely performed in this internship?
  • With what other departments or divisions do you interact the most?
  • What parts of the job or internship are most challenging?

For more information on Interview Tips, please visit the Vanderbilt Career Center: Career Center Tips

Finally, do not forget the HOD Internship Office is here to support you if you have any follow-up questions or would like to set up a meeting to discuss this material further. The HOD office is open Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:30 and is located in Mayborn 104.

“A Day in the Life” by Blake Sidon – Distance Learning Internship

Intern Spotlight

THE HOD “DAY IN THE LIFE” FEATURES STUDENTS WHO HAVE COMPLETED THE HOD INTERNSHIP AND THEN SHARE WORDS OF WISDOM TO ILLUMINATE THEIR EXPERIENCES. THIS WEEK HIGHLIGHTS THE STORY OF BLAKE SIDON, WHO COMPLETED A DISTANCE INTERNSHIP AT U.S. MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS, IN GENEVA, SWITZERLAND IN THE SUMMER OF 2015.

 

Who: Blake Sidon

Fall 2017

Internship Site: U.S. Mission to the United Nations – Geneva, Switzerland

 

Check out video clip’s of Blake’s HOD Capstone Internship experience:

The Intern Experience

Feel How Gender Shapes Migration

Minimata Convention on Mercury

 

BS 1

 

Site description:

The Mission’s formal title is the Permanent Mission of the United States of America to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva. The Mission as it’s known today became active in 1946 after the birth of the United Nations. The central goal of the Mission is to represent the interests of the U.S. at the UN Office of Geneva (UNOG) and other Geneva-based international organizations, such as the Conference on Disarmament (CD), Human Rights Council (HRC), World Health Organization (WHO), World Trade Organization (WTO), High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), International Office of Migration (IOM), and International Labor Organization (ILO). As a bureau of the State Department, the Mission assists in representing U.S. foreign policy goals as well as playing a formal role in negotiating and constructing international law. Additionally, they assist with humanitarian aid coordination and support.

 

What was your role as an intern?

As an intern for the public diplomacy office, my role changed daily. One day I could be attending a meeting on the Syrian refugee crisis, another day I could be taking notes at an ambassador’s press conference. The work required a high learning curve and an ability to be flexible. Some of the “longer” projects I worked on was developing social media campaigns for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, the US Patent and Trade Office’s Patents for Humanity program, and the 16 days of advocacy for Ending Gender-based Violence against Women.

 

BS 2

 

What was your capstone design project for your HOD internship?

For my capstone project, I wanted to focus on the difficulties of working in the foreign service. One common observation was the struggle working abroad and trying to balance work and lifestyle. As I looked deeper into this issue, I realized that the current office culture is not supportive of a culture where work-life balance can flourish. In order to shift the Mission’s office culture, I developed the Cultural Change Agent Network (CCAN). The CCAN identifies employees who healthily prioritize a work-life balance, termed Change Agents. Change Agents are tasked with leveraging their internal networks to facilitate culture change through office activities and events. The CCAN is a cost-effective program that relies on the buy-in of employees at the foundation of an organization rather than the typical “top-down” method of organizational change. This intervention is very beneficial for organizations performing in a high-stakes environment, lacking internal mechanisms for morale improvement, and struggling to retain employees.

 

BS 3

 

What was one of the highlights from your internship experience?

One of the highlights of my internship experience was helping organize an event with Ima Matul as a guest speaker. Ima Matul is a survivor of human trafficking and now advocates for the rights of immigrant laborers in the U.S. She also works with lawmakers to develop survivor-centered legislation at the local, national, and international level. The event included guests from Geneva-based organizations, including IOM, UNHCR, and ILB, as well as delegates from different countries. It was an amazing experience to see NGOs, governments, and civil service working together to address an important issue. Additionally, it’s easy to forget how your work affects other people, especially when you’re surrounded by people in suits and leather conference rooms. Listening to the story of someone with first-hand experience surviving the issues we are trying to halt is an influential reminder to the importance of the work being conducted at the U.S. Mission and United Nations.

 

BS 4

 

How have you grown as a result of your internship?

This internship has enabled me to grow personally and professionally. It has taught me to take risks and put myself in situations that make me slightly uncomfortable. I’ve also learned the importance of keeping an open mind. Before my internship, I was hesitant on working for the government. However, I have learned a great deal about how the U.S. Department of State works and how important it is for the promotion and protection of American interests abroad.

 

What are 3 pieces of advice for someone in the process of their internship search?

  1. Do your HOD internship abroad! The HOD internship program at Vanderbilt is unique in that it provides the opportunity to work abroad for a semester. Take advantage!
  2. Don’t be afraid to look at different internship opportunities. There are many opportunities out there and the HOD internship office may not know of all of them. Research your own opportunities in addition to using the HOD internship database.
  3. Try something new! The HOD internship allows you to try working in an industry you may not get to otherwise. Maybe you’ll find a new passion.