The Power of Internships

When I was in college, I had no idea what I wanted to after graduation. I changed my major a year in, and even then, was still not really sure what I was going to do with an Operations Management degree.

One thing I did know for sure was that I was going to do several co-ops to test out different roles and work environments. I figured if there was a way to determine what I wanted to do, testing out some options was going to be the best route. My dad still works for the company he co-oped with in college, so I assumed that internships would do nothing but help me.

I think I was unprepared though for just how great of an experience my co-op rotations would be. I was lucky enough to find Bridge Logistics on my first rotation, and even though I had thought I’d work at several companies, I’m still here over four years later.

I started with Bridge as an operations co-op. I worked with several of our sales reps helping to find carriers to move our customers’ shipments. I gained a lot of extremely valuable experience – learning how to interact with customers, remain professional at all times (even in a sometimes unprofessional industry), and build relationships in business. It was a great experience, but it also showed me that I didn’t see a long-term fit for me in that role or within sales.

Even though I didn’t want to stay within the department that I co-oped in, that position helped me get my next role. I was given the opportunity to develop our operational onboarding program because of the work I had done in my initial co-op rotations. Then, I was able to transition into my current role of recruiting and hiring because of the experience I had training. But it all came back to the initial work I had put in while interning.

I can confidently say that I am where I am now because of my internship experience. It helped me determine a path that I don’t think I would have been able to find just in the classroom. It’s hard to really know if you’re going to like something until you do it day in and day out. That’s why internships are such a great thing!

Even if you absolutely hate your internship, it’s only for a few months and then you never have to go back if you don’t want to. You’ll then have an idea of what you don’t like so you can avoid those elements in your next role.

Work hard even if you realize the role won’t be a long-term fit for you.

Any internship can give you a better perspective on the work environment that you like best. Do you prefer an open office layout or high cube walls with more privacy? Do you like working for a small company where you know everyone or do you prefer a large corporation with brand recognition? Are you okay with a job that doesn’t have remote capabilities or do you need more flexibility? These are all valuable things you can determine regardless of your job title.

StartĀ building a list of what you like and don’t like about your internship roles, so you can have a better sense of direction for your next position.

Find an internship that you think will give you real-world experience (not just running around getting coffee for people), and then work extremely hard while you’re there. Even if you don’t see a long-term fit in that role or company, you never know who might be able to make connections for you in the future. One of your coworkers could end up at a different company down the line and recommend you for an open position. In an internship, you should make every effort to build relationships across the company.

Make relationships outside of your immediate department to set yourself both apart and up for future success.

From my own personal experience, I know finding a job after graduation would have been much harder without my internships. I can’t talk enough about how valuable they are. Worst case scenario, you find out what you don’t like in a role. Best case scenario, you find the company where you want to start your career like I did.

By Allison Walke, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding

*Interested in applying for one of our internship roles? Submit an application here!*

Being Authentically YOU at Work

There’s a quote by Simon Sinek that says “If you’re different at work than you are at home, in one of those two places you’re lying.” And we couldn’t agree more!

It’s so important to work in a place that allows you to completely be yourself at work. It takes a lot of energy to be someone different, and while this might be okay in the short-term, it’s definitely not going to be sustainable in the long-term. You’re going to get worn down eventually and start looking for a different role.

Now, of course every single position is going to require stepping out of your comfort zone from time-to-time. That’s how we grow. We’re not talking about making yourself uncomfortable in order to be better. We’re talking about if you change your personality while you’re at work. You should never have to change who you are, especially when you spend so much of your time at work.

First off, how do you go about making sure when you’re searching for a new job that the environment is going to allow you to be yourself and thrive?

You have to really pay attention during the interview process, while also taking a deep dive into yourself. If you’re an extrovert who gets energy by being around people, maybe you shouldn’t work in a place that has high cubicle walls and doesn’t promote collaboration. If you’re a person that does your best work in an uninterrupted routine, don’t take a job that involves a lot of varied schedules and last-minute changes in plan.

You’re able to truly be yourself when you’re in an environment that aligns with your natural tendencies. So first, you have to determine what environment you thrive in, and then search for that fit in the interview process. Ask questions of the interviewer(s) that will help you qualify the opportunity to see if it aligns.

So then, what do you do if you’re currently in a role where you don’t feel comfortable being yourself?

You need to start by determining if the problem is internal or external. Are you concerned that your coworkers will think you’re weird? Are you worried that asking for some schedule flexibility in order to take your kids to school will make you appear not fully invested in your job? Are you stressed that being direct with a coworker will cause them to gossip about you at the water cooler? All of these scenarios are centered on being concerned about how SOMEONE ELSE perceives you. If you’re afraid to be yourself because of how someone else is going to judge you, there’s not a problem with the job or environment – you need to take a deep look inside yourself because you’re letting other people’s possible opinions of you affect how you live your life.

But maybe you can’t be yourself at work, not because of your own lack of confidence, but because of the inherent environment. If the role or company culture simply doesn’t allow you to do your best work, then there’s a problem with the job itself and it might be time to look for a new opportunity.

At the end of the day, we’re able to be authentically ourselves no matter where we are when we’re in an environment that supports our natural personality and when we stop caring about other people’s opinions and perceptions. If you’re able to find the self-confidence to be who you are meant to be, while also being in a work environment that enhances that, you’ll never have a problem with showing up as anyone less than yourself.

By Allison Walke, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding

The #1 Job Search Tip

Looking for a new job is insanely stressful. Where do you look? How do you find that right next opportunity? If you’re looking for a new job, there is one thing that you should absolutely do, and it takes only a few minutes.

You need to mark yourself as “Open to Opportunities” on LinkedIn if you are looking for a new job.

First off, how do you make this change on your profile? You’ll want to go to your Account Settings & Privacy.

Next, you’ll go to Job seeking preferences and switch on the “Let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities.”

From here, there’s some additional information you can enter for recruiters to see. This will give them a better idea of what you’re looking for. To do this, go to the Jobs tab and select Career interests.

This opens up a page of information for you to fill out. You don’t have to fill out everything, but anything you add will be seen by recruiters looking at your profile. You can add a personalized note, status of your job search, job titles, locations, types of roles, industries, and company sizes that you prefer. If you’re not looking for something specific in one of those categories, leave it blank. But if you know you’re only open to full-time sales roles in Cincinnati with small companies, then put those filters in place.

So now that you’ve posted you’re “Open to Opportunities”, what do recruiters see?

Marking yourself as open remains confidential to everyone (including anyone at your current company). The only people who will be able to see any of the information you filled out are recruiters who have partnered with LinkedIn. Companies have the option to join a recruiting partnership with LinkedIn, and when they do so, the recruiters on their teams get access to a whole separate platform in LinkedIn. They view profiles through LinkedIn Recruiter where they can see that you’re open to talking with them.

When recruiters are searching for individuals that might be a good fit for one of their roles, they are going to look first at those who are open to new opportunities. It’s going to be more likely for them to recruit someone who is already looking for a new job than someone who is completely happy in their current role. This is why it’s so important to mark yourself as open! Sure, you might get some InMails for jobs that you aren’t remotely interested in, but you just might get one that does align with what you’re looking for.

If you’re in the job market, it doesn’t hurt to open yourself to every option, and marking yourself “Open to Opportunities” on LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to do this.

So if you’re looking for a new job right now, make sure you open yourself up on LinkedIn!

By Allison Walke, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding

So What’s the Deal with Cover Letters?

A cover letter serves as an addition to your resume to help explain why you feel like you would be a great candidate for the role. But what should it include? Is it necessary at all times? Are recruiters even going to read it?

Here’s our fool-proof guide to cover letters….

Cover letters are not necessary in every situation.

Your resume is going to explain what you’ve done and the accomplishments you’ve achieved. A cover letter should not reiterate what’s on your resume. It can be a great tool in certain instances though.

If you are applying for a role in a city other than the one you currently live in, attach a cover letter to your resume and explain that you understand you’re living elsewhere but that you’re really interested in relocating. Oftentimes, if you are living in a different city, a recruiter is going to be skeptical about whether it will end up working out. If you explain your intention to relocate, you’ll increase your chances of getting a follow-up interview.

If you are applying for a role that you aren’t completely qualified for, attach a cover letter to your resume and explain what you can bring to a role and how you feel like you could learn the other areas that you may not have experience in. You may increase your chances of hearing back.

If you have gaps in your resume, attach a cover letter to your resume and explain the reasons behind them. Large gaps can be a red flag to an employer that you aren’t a serious candidate. However, if you can explain that the gap was due to raising kids, taking care of a family issue, etc. it will help the recruiter better understand your situation.

Cover letters should be personalized to the specific position you’re applying for. Recruiters are going to look at them, but they’ll probably stop reading if they realize it’s a canned letter.

A generic letter saying you’re going to work hard and are excited for any new opportunities is quite frankly a waste of time. Anyone can type this up in a letter, and a recruiter isn’t going to end up spending the time reading it. Either make it count by having a letter that is very specific to that particular role – or just skip it in general.

The absolute worst thing you can do is apply with a cover letter catered to a completely different role and company.

Always double check when you’re applying for a position that if you’ve written a custom cover letter, you’re submitting the correct one! Nothing will get you thrown into the no pile faster than having an attached cover letter to the entirely wrong company. This is a red flag that you’re not detail oriented.

So at the end of the day, a cover letter can be a great addition to further explain something on your resume that a recruiter may pass over you for, but if you don’t have something specific to explain, just skip it entirely. Most applications come without a cover letter, so it’s definitely not necessary in every situation.

By Allison Walke, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding

Professional Ghosting

Ghosting is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society. But what started off as a way to turn down a date in the hopes they “got the hint” that you were no longer interested has since transferred to the professional world as well.

Right now, it’s a candidate’s market – there are more jobs out there than there are unemployed individuals, so simple supply and demand tells us that a candidate has quite a few job options to choose from. But what do they do with all the other offers that they ultimately decide are not for them? Some candidates will cease all communication with the other companies, never to return the recruiters emails or phone calls.

It’s not just candidates though who do this – it’s companies too. It happens on both sides. What do companies do with the candidates they take through their interview process but don’t end up hiring? Some of them will also cease all communication, never telling the candidate that they decided to go in a different direction.

But professional ghosting is also still not specific to the recruiting and hiring process. Prospects will ghost you. Sales representatives will sound interested in your business only to never follow back up.

At the end of the day, professional ghosting is a problem across the board in the business world, pointing to a deeper problem that is at the root of all this ghosting.

We don’t want to put ourselves in an awkward situation of turning someone down. People will say that ghosting happens because you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings, but is that really true? It’s more that we don’t like the feeling we have while we’re turning someone down rather than being sensitive to someone else’s feelings. It sounds harsh, but it’s true.

Is telling someone you’re no longer interested the best conversation you’re going to have that day? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s straight up awkward and uncomfortable. But isn’t it better to give clarity that you’re not moving forward than to leave the other person wondering for awhile until they realize they’ve just been ghosted? We want people to be honest with us, and receiving a no can actually be a good thing. You know that door is closed and you don’t have to put any more valuable time and energy into it. You can focus your attention on what is going to propel you forward.

So the next time you’re not interested in something or someone – whether it’s in your professional or personal life – instead of just ignoring it and waiting for it to go away, ask yourself if that’s the most mature way to handle the situation. Instead face the slightly uncomfortable moment, politely decline, and move on.

By Allison Walke, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding

How-To Guide: Finding the Right Career Fit

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median job tenure is 4.2 years. Forbes states that 91% of Millennials are expecting to stay at a job no longer than 3 years. So what does that mean? Well, a whole lot of people are struggling to find the right career fit.

People are trying something, finding out it’s not “for them”, and then jumping to the next opportunity. And this vicious cycle can continue on for awhile.

It’s hard to know what you want to do and where you want to work. The interview process is often more tailored to the company finding the right employee fit than giving the candidate ample opportunity to make sure it’s the right career fit for them. So it makes sense that a lot of people find themselves in a job that isn’t fulfilling.

But how exactly do you go about finding the right career fit? There are a few things you can do to better align your next opportunity with your career goals….

Determine what you’re looking for. Or at least, what you’re NOT looking for.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what you want to do next. But it might not be as hard to figure out what you DON’T want to do next. If there were specific things that you didn’t like about your previous job, avoid those things in your job search. Learn from your prior experience. Maybe you hated feeling like an anonymous number at a large corporation? Only look at small to medium sized companies then.

Help to narrow your search down by thinking about the following questions:

  • Would I prefer to work at a large company or a small company?
  • What type of corporate culture do I want to immerse myself in?
  • Would I rather work for a company that sells a tangible product or an intangible service?
  • Where am I at in life? Do I need a job with the flexibility to work from home? Do I want a job with lots of travel opportunities?
  • What kinds of people do I tend to work best with and in what environment?
  • What are my greatest strengths that I can bring to a company?

Do your research!

There are a lot of people who, when they’re looking for a new job, apply to just about every single opportunity they see. While it may not take a ton of time to send off a resume, it’s still a waste to apply to jobs that are not even remotely what you’re looking for. You want a job in the nursing field? Why are you spending your time applying to a logistics company then? Read the job description and make sure that the opportunity at least initially looks like something that would align with your wants and needs.

While the job description and company website should give you some general information about the position and the company, it’s probably not going to give you a full picture. Look at their social media as well – smaller companies especially often use their social media to promote their corporate culture. Use LinkedIn to see who works for the company, and reach out to mutual connections or alumni of your university to get their take on the work environment.

Prepare tons of questions.

During the interview process, there will be lots of opportunities to ask questions, probably to several different employees. Be strategic and have a lot of questions prepared on the top aspects of the company and role that you’re looking for. If culture is really important to you, ask questions about that. Read more about good questions to ask during the interview here. Asking current employees about their experiences with the company is a great way to determine if the environment is going to be the right one for you.

Take time to think about the offer.

If you get a formal job offer, don’t rush into anything. Make sure you see everything in writing, but also give yourself time to think about the job opportunity. No job is ever going to be perfect, but there should be more positives about the role than negatives. You should be excited about the job opportunity! If you aren’t excited and the job doesn’t meet your main qualifications, then you should keep looking. While accepting a job doesn’t mean you’re obligated to stay there forever, it is a big decision and one that is going to affect your daily life for at least some time. The decision shouldn’t be made lightly – you should be confident that you’re making the right decision.

There is no exact science for finding the right career fit, but you can learn from your previous experiences to make a better informed choice next time. Sometimes you don’t really know if you’re going to love a job until after you get settled into it, but by reflecting on what you want, researching companies and applying strategically, preparing questions, and taking time to think about the offer, you can make a good next career move.

By Allison Walke, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding