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Landing a Summer Internship: Tips for Teens and College Students

Summer internships are exciting opportunities for students to discover themselves and gain valuable work experience. They can set you up for college and career exploration. The right internship can be an immersive experience that allows students the opportunity to explore a certain field, meet a network of professionals, strengthen communication skills, understand office life, and—hopefully—earn some spending money. Students should look for internships that are organized and that provide opportunities to partake in as many aspects of the business or opportunity as possible. It’s important to be in an environment where observation and learning are encouraged, along with hands-on experience, even when there are rote or administrative tasks to get done.

How to get the internship you want? Start early. Internships can be competitive and can fill up quickly. Be sure to research and start the process in advance so you don’t miss any important deadlines. Be proactive. Try to create your own opportunities at firms or organizations you admire. Employers like to see students who know what they want and who will work toward a goal. Make sure to ask questions, follow up with interviewers, and offer additional information or references so that companies can get a good sense of who you are. And be sure to leave on a positive note. After the internship ends, ask for a reference for yourself while memories of your experience there are fresh in their minds.

Didn’t get the internship? Learn from the experience. Ask your interviewer how you could have improved your chance of scoring the internship, or if you can get in touch next year. And if earning money is not a requirement, consider offering to be a shadow or volunteer your time for a short time; the actual experience could help you build contacts, grow your personal network, and provide a valuable experience for your future.

Originally published as a guest article for knowsymoms.com.

Planning Ahead: How to Get the Most Out of Your Summer

Summer is a great time to take a break from the busy season at school and at work. Take some time to relax, enjoy the outdoors and get some sun; you’ve earned it!

Taking a breather is a great opportunity to re-energize. It’s also a chance to take some time to think about what’s in store for the upcoming year. Part of having a meaningful summer experience is being thoughtful about takeaways. What do you want to learn this summer? What part of yourself would you like to improve? Perhaps more specific to teens: what do you want to demonstrate to admissions officers and future employers? What unique experiences can you describe in your college essays?

We know it can be overwhelming for teens to feel that everything they accomplish in their high school years can be examined through the lens of getting into college (SATs, ACTs, college essays, extracurricular and summer activities, internship interviews, etc.) But most colleges are looking for the kind of growth and self-awareness that we should expect of ourselves, regardless of where we are applying to college.

Part of that growth can come from making conscious decisions that involve long-term thinking, as opposed to short-term goals. Op-Ed columnist Thomas Friedman mentions in a recent article in the New York Times: “prospective bosses today care less about what you know or where you learned it…than what value you can create with what you know.” In other words, what matters isn’t always what you are doing, but why and how.

Whether you are looking forward to a summer of studying abroad, helping others, working at an office, or taking a well-deserved break, we encourage everyone—teens and parents—to take some time to consider your summer’s value toward your long-term goals!

Teaching Generosity and Kindness

Kindness and compassion are some of the most important qualities to instill in our kids today. According to surveys cited in Adam Grant’s “Raising a Moral Child” in The New York Times, parents across the country are placing greater importance on caring than on achievement.

Grant’s article raises interesting points about the way we reward good and ‘moral’ behavior (like sharing, or being polite) and the way we punish bad behavior.

For instance, recent studies have shown that there are crucial differences in praising behavior versus praising your child. The seemingly small difference between saying “That was a helpful thing to do” versus “You are a helpful person” has more effect than we realize. At early ages, it’s crucial for parents to help their kids identify as kind or compassionate by telling them that is what they are (as opposed to singling out their behavior as good. )

What about bad behavior? You guessed it. In order for kids to identify as compassionate or kind individuals, Grant suggests not to scold children for being bad when behave selfishly. Rather, their behavior should be separated from them and identified as problems that can be changed. Grant discusses the interesting notion that shame and guilt are often conflated (in kids and in adults) when in fact they are totally different. “Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person, whereas guilt is the feeling that I have done a bad thing.” Shame makes children feel worthless, whereas guilt is about a singular action and can be repaired by good and thoughtful behavior.

Keeping these nuanced differences in mind is so important to raising and teaching our kids, and even understanding our own behavior! Click here to read the full article.

How to Raise Happy Kids

We took a look at the latest infographic from happiness training app Happify and saw some new studies worth paying attention to! As parents, it’s important to stay present and engaged, to practice what we preach and create a positive, kind, and nurturing environment for our children and teens.

According to Happify, studies suggest that the way we parent and the way we express ourselves in front of our children deeply affect their emotional well-being, resilience, communication skills and even brain size.

Another great thought was the reminder that parents need to be happy for kids to be happy. Sometimes parents are so focused on their children that they forget the importance of a well-rounded and meaningful life for themselves. Kids benefit from seeing their parents satisfied, and from the parenting approaches that come from those who are happy with their lives.

We love this simple, easy-on-the-eyes approach to new updates and classic reminders on what makes a family happy. Take a look for yourself and print it out if you need a reminder every now and again.

Creativity as a Survival Skill?

A creative studies degree. I’m willing to bet, there is a parent out there who is not happy that his or her child is majoring in this area. However after reading a recent article in the NY Times, I’m convinced that the world needs more students graduating with this background.

“Learning to Think Outside the Box” explores a program offered at Buffalo State University that focuses not just on critical thinking, but critical thinking paired with creativity. People are often divided into two categories – are you right-brained (intuitive, thoughtful,) or left-brained (logical, analytical)? That seems to imply that certain people just aren’t creative. But think about all the talent out there that isn’t developed because we’ve been teaching our students to think about creativity as a trait (that you have or don’t have) rather than a skill. This article goes on to discuss how crucial creativity is in the job force, no matter what profession you are in. It’s about being resourceful and imaginative. It’s about problem solving and proactive thinking. They are 21st century “survival” skills – and it’s what our camps have been practicing for over a hundred years.

Kids are challenged at summer camp. They learn skills you just can’t recreate in the classroom. And more importantly, they practice creativity – and not just at arts and crafts. They’re being creative when they realize they get changed for swim faster when they sing a song together. They’re being creative when they make their bed faster by folding their sheets a certain way. They’re being creative by asking to swap schedules with another group to get double time at their favorite activity. Most importantly, summer staff are taught to identify teachable moments and trained to intentionally practice creative skills. So before you hand your “creative” child a paintbrush, or force piano lessons on them, remember that creativity is a skill and we should be looking for ways to incorporate it into everyday life.

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