Archive for July 31st, 2010

Careers Question: Why Haven’t I Received An Offer From My Summer Employer Yet?

In a bad economy, layoffs and hiring freezes are the norm.  So not only are companies downsizing, but they’re also more hesitant to bring in new employees and making fewer offers to summer interns. Objectively, this makes sense, as company managers strive to reduce costs and cut budgets as soon as possible. But that objectivity changes when it starts to happen at your company. And it really hits home when you come to realize that your position is impacted.  Whether a good economy or bad one, one thing to keep in mind is that every job is still a sales job, because ultimately you have to sell yourself.  And in a recent question I received on, a summer intern asked a question exactly about that.

In a recent question from a visitor on GottaMentor a member had a question about getting an offer after her summer internship.  Although the member thought she was having a great summer at the firm, it turns out that she has yet to receive an offer at the firm, while another intern that has been getting guidance from her all summer did receive an offer.  Not understanding what happened, she is worrying about her future prospects at the firm and also trying to reconcile why things happened the way they did.

I thought this was a great question that’s especially relevant in today’s economic environment.  Although the writer didn’t make specific reference to the economy, it still plays large part in hiring decisions today and interns are more reliant on getting an full time offer than ever before.  I also thought that there were some very clear takeaways to discuss regarding how to sell yourself in the workplace.  So I framed my response by discussing those takeaways and then discussing what I might do if I were in her situation.

As I’ve done in the past, I am putting this post on my website to showcase, an careers internet start-up company that I contribute to.  I recommend that everyone take a quick look at the site and consider joining if it makes sense for you.

Below is the reader’s question, and below that is my response.

Reader’s Question

My coworker – let’s call him Joe, and I started our internships at the same time in the same department. Joe frequently asks for my help, mostly with excel modeling or to explain procedures to him. Even though he seems to understand most of it, he comes back to me several times a day to check if he has it right. We are nearing the end of the internship and I found out that Joe received a full time offer! I did not receive an offer and am totally dumbfounded.

Everyone knows that I help this guy and that he’s totally dependent on me. Other coworkers have even mentioned it to me. I can’t believe my manager hasn’t noticed. I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but should I tell my manager that I should be the one receiving the offer?


My Response

Dear (Name),

It’s hard to give a strong opinion without understanding more of the context of your story. But in the end, I think there are a couple of lessons you can take away from the summer.

1. One lesson is that even though hard work is critical in any organization, success in business is often about more than that. Among dozens of other things, it’s about fitting in culturally, showing passion for the work, selling yourself to those you work with, and being someone who others want on their team. Similarly, as “anonymous” mentioned previously, the ability to “ask for help and clarify things when necessary” is a skill organizations definitely look for.

2. Another lesson is that it’s not only about the models you build and how good you are technically, but it’s also how you deliver the information and the relationships you build with the people you work with. This is true in every profession, even the most technical ones. In this example, if you had a good relationship with the coworker, you might have leverage to ask the context of how he/she received an offer. The same might also hold true with your manager.

3. And one final takeaway is the importance of having sponsors. I won’t take credit for the takeaway, since it’s something John Rice mentions on his GottaMentor profile. “As you demonstrate that you are competent and can get things done, it becomes all about the relationships. It is not who you know, but instead it is who knows you well and thinks highly enough that they will go to bat for you.”

If you’ve already shown #1, now might be the time to work on those relationships and see if anyone will go to bat for you regarding a full time offer. After all, if everyone knows you do quality work like you said, and if you are a good fit for the organization, then I suspect you’ll at least get the company’s attention. But as a summer intern that has only been at the company a short time, you may not want to overplay your “relationships” card. On the other hand, it probably does make sense to really speak up about how much you like the company and that you’d be thrilled to come back, if that’s actually the case.

In the end, I’d also recommend that you do your best to leave a positive impression no matter how things turn out. The world is small and it’s likely you’ll run into one or more of your current coworkers again if you start your career in the industry. Similarly, if it turns out that the company has another job opening, then the company would probably consider you for the position. And finally, it’s likely that you’ll need a recommendation or a reference at some point.

Good luck!

Saturday, July 31st, 2010 Careers 2 Comments

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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