Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Office Shows You How to Make The Most of Your Internship

By Thaimi Fina

Finally, summer is here! And lucky for you, you’ve just landed a great summer internship! You enrolled in the Toppel Internship Program (TIP) and you’ll be starting your internship in the upcoming weeks. Congrats on not spending the whole summer on your parents’ couch mooching off their free food and laundry service. We’re all very proud. So you’ve secured your internship, now what? Let us here at Toppel (with the help of my favorite TV show ‘The Office’) show you how to make the most of your summer internship experience.

Michael Scott:
What is the single most important thing for a company? Is it the building? Is it the stock? Is it the turnover? It's the people. The PEOPLE. My proudest moment here wasn't when I increased profits by 17%, or cut expenditure without losing a single member of staff. No, no, no, no. It was a young Guatemalan guy, first job in the country, hardly spoke a word of English, but he came to me and he went "Mr. Scott, will you be the Godfather to my child?" Wow… WOW!... Didn't work out in the end. We had to let him go. He sucked.

Take some notes from everyone’s favorite boss, Mr. Michael Scott. At the end of the day, the work that you do is just as important as the connections you make. Go out of your way to get to know your co-workers. Ask them how their weekend was, find out how they got started in the company, ask them about their family and kids (please verify that they have children before you go trying this one or it might lead to some awkward conversations). At the end of your internship, your colleagues may not remember the day-to-day tasks you completed, but they will definitely remember that you took the time to ask them how they were doing and really got to know them. These connections will prove invaluable to you in the future, as networking is the number one way to increase your chances of securing your next job or internship.

Michael Scott:
You may look around, and see two groups here. White collar, blue collar. But I don't see it that way. You know why not? Because I am collar-blind.

Following that same line of thought, be a positive face in the office regardless of whom you’re interacting with – be it upper management or custodial staff. You want to make sure that any time anyone brings your name up in the office, nothing but great things are said about your positive attitude and willingness to help any staff in need. By interacting positively with everyone in the office (A.K.A. remaining “collar-blind”), you can be certain that the Michael Scott of your office will provide an excellent reference to your next employer.

Michael Scott:
I'm friends with everybody in this office. We're all best friends. I love everybody here. But sometimes your best friends start coming into work late and start having dentist appointments that aren't dentist appointments, and that is when it's nice to let them know that you could beat them up.

Ok, so chances are your boss won’t try to beat you up. But, Michael’s got a point. Even if your internship has an office culture as casual as Michael’s branch, don’t let your professionalism start to slip. It is important to make the best possible impression throughout your entire internship, because you never know what job opportunities might be around the corner. It is not uncommon for interns to be offered continued internships or job opportunities following their summer internship. But if nothing else, your consistent professionalism will ensure that your boss will have nothing but outstanding things to say about you to your next employer. Also, if you distinguish yourself as a reliable and hard-working intern, your colleagues will be more likely to network with you in the future and to recommend you for relevant positions available. Therefore, on your first day of internship, make sure that you ask your supervisor about proper protocol for calling in sick, emergencies, doctor’s appointments, and lunch breaks. This way, when something unexpected comes up, you’ll already know the best and most professional way to handle the situation with your supervisor.

Jim Halpert:
Right now, this is a job. If I advance any higher, this would be my career. And if this were my career, I'd have to throw myself in front of a train.

A little dramatic? Maybe. But this quote exemplifies why internships are so incredibly valuable. In life, you don’t get many opportunities to try on different career options with minimal commitment, but an internship provides you just that! It lets you try on a career for a few months and decide “Oh my god I’m living the dream!” or “Ok I’d rather jump in front of a train than pursue this any longer.” Make the most of your internship by really immersing yourself in that field and figuring out whether or not it is the right fit for your professional goals. As you’re progressing through your internship, don’t be afraid to ask for work outside of your basic requirements. If there is a project that you’d really like to be a part of, ask! A good supervisor will welcome an intern’s willingness to become more involved in the company and will facilitate this experience. That is the main reason that the Toppel Internship Program requires students to meet with their supervisor at the beginning of their internship and discuss their goals (both personal and professional) for their internship experience. Your internship should give you the opportunity to explore various aspects of a particular field or position so that you can test the waters before you commit to pursuing a career. That way, you won’t end up like Jim – stuck in a mindless career and unhappy.

I’ll use Dwight Shrute to illustrate my final and most important point of all.

Don’t be the creepy guy in the office.

P.S. Unsure of how to search for a summer internship? It’s not too late! Click here to check out Megan’s post and discover where to find your next summer internship.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Summer Internships are Still Available!

By Megan Garber

It is not too late to find an internship for the summer!! If you don’t have your summer plans set in stone yet, don’t despair. Last week alone there were over 50 new internships posted to CaneZone and employers with opportunities include VISA, Bacardi, Bloomberg, Fontainebleau, HBO Latin America Group, and the Florida Marlins, just to name a few!

Currently, there are over 300 internships on our CaneZone system. Still can’t find something that interests you? Check out UCAN, a comprehensive online internship database that is shared by 22 prestigious colleges and universities. UCAN currently has 1700+ internship postings across the U.S. and the globe. Employers who recently posted internships on UCAN include General Electric, Denver Broncos, Boston’s Children Museum, MTV Networks, Shedd Aquarium, and National Parkinson Foundation. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? is the largest internships database in the world and you’re sure to find something that peaks your interests. Finally, don’t forget to check out Twitter and search for #intern.

Paid and Unpaid Internships
If possible, consider both paid and unpaid opportunities, but remember that internship providers (other than government agencies and not-for-profit agencies) are required by federal law to either pay or award academic credit to their interns. Compensation must be at least minimum wage or equal out to minimum wage per hour if payment comes in the form of a stipend. Government agencies and not-for-profit agencies are allowed to offer unpaid/no-credit internships without violating these laws. However, the Toppel Career Center recommends some sort of compensation. Remember if your employer requires you to receive academic credit for your internship you can go through the Toppel Internship Program. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Frits Bigham at

Resume, Cover Letter, and Interview Help

If you’re applying for lots (20+) of internships and not receiving any interviews, it’s time to take a closer look at your resume and cover letter. Come in for walk-in advising, Monday-Thursday from 2:00-4:00 pm and have a Toppel staff member take a look. Click here to review the Graduate Assistants’ advice on how to jam your way to a great resume and click here to read Monica’s tips for bringing your cover letter from inception to reality.
If you have had several first and/or second round interviews, but are not receiving any internship offers, it is time to get a second opinion on your interviewing skills. Remember, interviewing is all about fit. You may be qualified for the position, but does your personality best fit with the team? Do the boss and your potential co-workers want to spend every day working with you? When faced with sharing 8 hours a day with someone new, it is amazing how small social cues, non-words, and body language can be interpreted. Stop by for a mini mock interview, Tuesday – Thursday from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, to have your interviewing skills critiqued, and feel more confident knowing how you come across to others. You can also practice on your computer using the Optimal Resume software available on the Home page of your CaneZone account. Click here to read Toppel's Interviewing Skills Guide.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Running on Battery Acid Part 2

Written By Monica Page

"Show me the money!" – Jerry Maguire

This should be pretty self-explanatory. Money makes the world go ‘round and even if you want to go de-worm children in Africa you are going to need money. You can go the full-time route, the part-time route, the freelance route, or any other legal version of obtaining money using your skill-set. Not everyone is made for an office 9 to 5, the goal is to find the set-up that is best for you and monetize it. With technology allowing for easy connectivity across the world, it is now easier than ever to take full advantage of the multitude of opportunities available. Just stay legal, don’t try to recreate an episode of The Wire.

"I feel the need—the need for speed!" – Top Gun

Maybe you are one of the kids who have been prepared for life since you were formed in the womb. Not even a carded member of the human race yet and you were already planning your life goals and the paths you will take to get there. With that, there is absolutely no problem with being prepared (although it is creepy) except for the fact that when you get a job and get your life together, what comes next? Would you rather speed through your hopes and expectations or take a breather and enjoy the finer things in life? Perhaps you want to take a couple of months off and backpack through Europe or volunteer overseas. There is no “must-be-accomplished-by-this-date” policy in life. We will all get old, but stressing yourself out to achieve your to-do list before the age of 25 will do nothing but stress you out and make you ridiculously irritable and a pain to be around.

"You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?" – Dirty Harry

Are you glad you went to the University of Miami? Are you glad you survived Hecht and Stanford? Are you glad you stayed 50 feet away from Four Loko (feel free to modify this statement based on your average blood alcohol level between Thursday and Monday)? The goal of graduation is to have the least amount of regrets as possible. You can’t relive those years nor should they be the best times of your life. Yes, this is probably the only time you can be on Ocean Drive for a full 48 hours, intoxicated and not be compared to Paris Hilton; but really do you want to be 40 years old hanging out with college students? Complete your Miami bucket list and have no regrets. Although the $200,000 tuition fee may break you a little inside, you are done and it’s time to move on to life post-dorm life.

"May the Force be with you." – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Not everyone wants to continuously stay on campus post-graduation. For others, you won’t have the opportunity to stay on campus anyway (as in, you are moving away from Miami, not that you are on the UMPD watch list). So take these last moments to soak up as much knowledge as possible from professors, friends and general staff members who can help you move forward in life. Don’t write down every single suggestion someone gives you. There are stupid people in the world and after four years of palm trees and ducks you should be able to distinguish between useless and useful knowledge. As another side note, if your personal Yoda is really passionate about telling you something or making you do something that is only possible to achieve in Miami, it is probably a bad idea. Run for the hills. Yoda needs to give some better advice, otherwise Yoda needs to shut-up.

"Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary." – Dead Poets Society

To wrap up this mega-post in the voice of Jim Morrison, “this is the end, beautiful friend, the end.” Even for the less than aesthetically pleasing amongst us, these years at Miami will never return again. You can always earn your masters or doctorate degree here, but nothing will be the same. The Rat will be gone, the parrots may be gone, and a crocodile may finally chase off those fat ducks that like to parade up and down Stanford Drive. Calling Canes will have your information and who knows what other changes will occur. Take the however many years you were here and make something out of yourself.

Don’t be the one person in Miami Magazine who has nothing to say for themselves. Buy a stuffed Sebastian, stick it in your car window/ office/ house window/ random areas in life and never forget your years at Miami. Especially for the few of us who will be paying for it for the next 10 years. Every time you send out that monthly check, throw up the U with a little tear in your eyes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Toppel Peer Advisor, Jesse Cortes, and Director, Christian Garcia, on CBS4

CBS4 stopped by the Toppel Career Center on May 10 to interview Christian Garcia, Toppel's Director, and Jesse Cortes, Peer Advisor, on the importance of internships. Also interviewed was UM Alumnus Michael "Dr. Woody" Woodward, Executive Coach and author of The You Plan.

To see the story, click here

Monday, May 9, 2011

Running on Battery Acid Part 1

Written BY Monica Page

Graduation: that beautiful moment where your $200,000 education is summed up in a handshake with President Shalala in the Bank United Center. It is the moment we all patiently wait for. This is the moment where those 2 a.m., Redbull-sponsored study sessions in Club Richter seem semi-worth it (only a little). After all the toil and hard work you discover a new world: life after Miami. Even if you plan to stay in Miami, life will never be the same.

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning!" – Apocalypse Now

That first morning after graduation: your food will taste different, the sun will shine brighter, and then reality will hit you like a freight train. Student loans, post-grad job, the prospect of grad school, that random DVD you left in your dorm room that UNICCO has probably chucked by now. For some, walking across that stage and getting your diploma will be the highlight of your life for a couple of weeks/months. Now, I’m not comparing life after Miami to Vietnam, but after the keggers and SoBe parties die down and that first bill from “insert-loan-company-here” comes in the mail, not even Marlon Brando can save you.

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." – Gone With The Wind

When you go in for interviews or just general networking meetings the term “University of Miami” will carry a lot of weight. People will have negative impression of how you act and that you can hold your liquor better than a Cajun at Mardi Gras. All the above can be amusing, but you’ll always get that one. The one person who feels that need to inform the world of their Ivy League education sponsored by their great grandfather. You’ll go into meetings and see their pressed Yale blue jackets layered over a Hugo Boss shirt and think, “Why oh why did Miami have to have orange and green as their official colors?!” But when you really think about it, who cares? Miami is a great school in academics, a great school in sports and offers many opportunities students at other schools will never get. Plus, we are ranked number one in Florida so all the other schools can just go back and play in the snow while we study under palm trees.

"Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

As I said above, Miami graduates can be sometimes be attached to negative stereotypes. We have a general tendency to go into places like we already have the job and act like we are the best. Listen up Miami; sometimes you may need to do a little bit more to get the job. Even if you have a 4.0 through your entire undergraduate career, there is still the prospect that you may need to apply for a specific certificate or program to prove you have knowledge in the area. Take the certification and shut-up, that way you can get hired and run down the hallways throwing up the U to all the other employees (take an extra long stop at the UF and FSU offices).

"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." – Casablanca

Remember that one time on South Beach where you were doing Sake bombs and ended up dancing on top of tables like Jenny from the Block? Yeah, that will probably come back to haunt you. There are people in the world; no one knows where they come from (probably Mars) who remember every little detail of every other person’s life. These are the people who randomly post on your Facebook wall about elementary school kickball injuries that no one has any recollection of. When it comes to life after Miami, have a sit-down with this person. Tell them, “your overall existence will probably hamper any chance I have of getting a proper job, please shut-up until further notice.” As another prerequisite, if you happen to be going out to a networking event or interview, do it 50 miles away from this person and any bartenders/waiters who may have knowledge of your escapades

Friday, May 6, 2011

Congrats Class of 2011! Graduation Check List

You're almost through your last final exams as an undergraduate. The last thing you want to do is put in extra effort to think about what you have to do to be ready for Commencement next week after pulling five all nighters. To help you out, here's a quick to do list:

1. Fill out the graduating student survey click here

2. Pick up your regalia (cap and gown)
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 8:30am - 6:00pm
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 8:30am - 6:00pm
Thursday, May 12, 2011 8:30am - 6:00pm
8:30 AM – 6:00 PM at the Toppel Career Center
Bring your Cane Card or a Photo ID

3. Know when your ceremony is and arrive one hour before the start time.
Here are dates and times of the commencement ceremonies:
Thursday, May 12, 4:00 PM, Graduate Degree Ceremony (All graduate degrees except School of Law and School of Medicine M.D. degrees)
Friday, May 13
Undergraduate Degree Ceremonies
8:30 AM: School of Business Administration, College of Engineering
12:30 PM: Schools of Architecture, Communication, Education, Music, Nursing & Health Studies
5:00 PM: College of Arts & Sciences, RSMAS undergraduates

For reception information and additional commencement information, click here

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Looking Back…

Written By Claire Arritola

As a graduating senior, I am walking the campus with a mix of emotions. I am beyond excited to graduate and to start a new chapter, but I am also very sad to leave UM. As I walked into work today at Toppel, I made note of the fact that my days were numbered; soon I would not be making my familiar walk from Pavia to Stanford Circle. Now that I am a senior, I can safely say that I have made some mistakes and had some successes as well. As a freshman, I entered UM without having too much direction and looking back on my experience I realized that I could have navigated that path a little better. They always say that “hindsight is 20/20,” but now I actually believe this saying. So here are my top 5 tips for freshman:
1) Try new things!
2) Get involved!
3) Choose a mentor!
4) Get to know people in your classes, you will eventually need them.
5) Enjoy your time at UM, it goes by so fast!

Four finals now separate me from graduation. I will miss everyone at Toppel very much and have learned so many great skills. No matter what year you are in school just remember that the time goes by very fast, for better or for worst. Take advantage of the resources that you have now and enjoy your time here!