A Beginner’s Guide to the CHOICE Internship Program

Written by Andrew Morin

You’ve heard of the CHOICE program…okay, maybe you haven’t really. Oh, whispers of it? Maybe?  Well this post will outline this amazing internship program for you, hopefully answering any immediate questions you may have.


Basically, the CHOICE Internship Program pays you for your non-paid internship.  Simple enough.  The nitty-gritty?  The CHOICE program stands for the Community/Hometown Organizations Internships and Cooperative Education program.  Ultimately, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts funds the program, giving FSU extra money to pay students for gaining experience from internship sites that otherwise would not give out money.  The program impressively pays students up to $2,000.  So, it’s safe to say Massachusetts appreciates the cultivation of knowledge.  But there are requirements for you, the student, and for the employer who you want to intern for.

Student Requirements:

  • Must have a 2.75 cumulative GPA or higher and be approved by the Office of the Registrar
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student
  • Meet the Massachusetts in-state tuition residency requirement
  • File the FAFSA form and receive Financial Aid approval
  • Earn academic credit for the semester that they participate, requiring prior faculty approval and faculty internship supervision
  • Be registered on Ramtrack

Not bad, right?

Employer Requirements:

  • Must be a Framingham/MetroWest-based academic center, governmental agency, nonprofit business or community organization
  • Provide an educational internship experience
  • Agree to abide by the intern’s departmental internship guidelines including supervision and evaluation procedures
  • Be approved by the student’s Internship Faculty Advisor and the FSU Internship Coordinator
  • Post the position on Ramtrack
  • Confirm on a bi-weekly basis the intern-submitted actual internship hours worked by the appropriate deadline to the internship coordinator
  • Agree to FSU Employer Internship Requirements

Once again, not too bad.  As far as finding an employer that fits the CHOICE criteria goes, you can always log on to Ramtrack and see the many employers already involved.  Though, as mentioned, if you have an employer in mind that you think meets the criteria, all you need to do is get it approved by the internship coordinator.choice

Since the start of the program in 2013, over 300 students have successfully completed internships from 141 unique sites.  You could do the math yourself, but that’s approximately $614,000 that the program has distributed to students.

It’s an alluring program with nothing but benefits for you, so if you’re interested, come down to the CSER office, room 412 in the McCarthy Center.  There, you can take advantage of all the brochures and many lists detailing the opportunities associated with the CHOICE Internship Program.  You can meet Jill Gardosik, our internship coordinator, who oversees the CHOICE Internship Program.  Plus, you can always schedule an appointment (508-626-4625) with one of the career counselors to answer your questions, and ease your worries.

When you’re looking for an internship, you’ll want to act as soon as possible: meeting with the CSER office and getting an internship in place a semester in advance.  The CHOICE program is competitive and students can only use the CHOICE internship once.  It’s first-come-first-serve because there are limited funds for the program.  Don’t wait, come down to the CSER office and make an appointment.

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“Vault Into the Career of Your Dreams”

Written by Jesse Sannicandro

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Career Services and Employer Relations is hosting a Career Conference called “Vault into the Career of Your Dreams,” on Wednesday, November 30 in the McCarthy Center Forum from 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM. There are three sessions in this conference and students are encouraged to attend all three parts, but can also attend only one or two.

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The first session will be “Unlock The Vault.” Vault is a web resource that students and alumni are able to use to help with job searching. This resource contains industry statistics, overviews and advice on how to enter an industry. There are also recommendations on what career path to pursue based on your major and personal interests. Additionally, there are guides that give advice on interviewing, networking, and resumes, among other things. At first glance, it can look difficult to navigate, so this information session teaches users how to best take advantage of it.

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The second session is called “Soft Skills Savvy.” Soft skills are transferable across careers and industries. They are abilities that all employers look for and include teamwork, interpersonal skills, and goal-orientation. They are not something that you learn in class and are often overlooked by students. There is a gap between what skills students think they have and what employers actually need, this is called the “soft skills gap.” Students think that they have all the skills they need, but there are often many that they are missing. This session will help attendees learn all about this and more.

http://www.connectionsacademy.com/blog/posts/2014-12-01/Why-Developing-Soft-Skills-during-High-School-Matters.aspx
via connectionsacademy.com

The last session will demonstrate a new library resource, Career Spots videos. Career Spots is a resource that is new to Framingham State University this semester. This valuable resource was made available thanks to a grant that the Whittemore Library received from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It includes many videos on everything career related. Using this resource can be a good alternative to reading information for those who learn better by watching videos. Included in the videos available on Career Spots is information about interviewing and resume writing.

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I have never been to a career conference and am excited about the opportunity to attend one. This program will be useful as a way to transition from life as a student to someone searching for gainful employment in a career. Whether you have your career path set or if you have no idea at all, we at Career Services encourage all students and alumni to attend.

Adventures in LinkedIn Part 1: Too Many Connections

Written by Jesse Sannicandroimg_0057

LinkedIn has quickly become my latest obsession. I created an account after Dawn Ross, Director of Career Services and Employer Relations, visited my professional writing class to give a presentation on resumes, cover letters, elevator pitches, and LinkedIn, but, it wasn’t until recently that I started becoming an active member.

On a lark, I asked a person who conducted a mock interview with me if I could add him on LinkedIn and he said, “Of course.” After I requested him as a connection, I realized that I only had seven others in my network; two of these were my parents and another was my sister. Not wanting to look like some kind of dweeb, I hurriedly started adding as many people as I could so I wouldn’t have fewer than ten connections.

This is when I started to become fascinated with the idea of LinkedIn. I started adding people willy-nilly. Many of these people were my peers and friends from school, while others were bosses of mine. Most shocking was when old girlfriends started being suggested as “people I may know.” And so, I started going deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole that is LinkedIn.

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Walt Disney Studios / via nerdist.com

I started thinking, LinkedIn is like Facebook, minus all the social drama. While I was excitedly relating my newfound experience with LinkedIn to someone more savvy in social media than I am, she told me that indiscriminately adding people was a major red flag. I was playing the popularity game, thinking that the more connections I had, the more professional and well-connected I would look. Ultimately, she said, this could end up hurting me. She advised that I should not have random connections unrelated to the field in which I am searching.

I’m still learning. But, after getting some pointers, there are certain major aspects that I plan to focus on, so I can best utilize this professional social networking platform.

Rock STAR Interviews

Written by Jesse Sannicandro

Job interviews aren’t always easy. They can be nerve-wracking and you may draw a blank when asked a simple question. But they don’t have to be difficult, you just have to be prepared.

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Hopefully, this isn’t you

I recently took part in a mock interview as part of the Suitable Solutions Professionalism Program. Though I made a good impression, I drew a blank when I was asked a certain question.

“Tell me about a mistake you’ve made.”

I went silent. I hadn’t prepared an answer to this question. I immediately could think of several mistakes, but none of these would be appropriate responses in an interview. I knew that a good reply would cover certain criteria. The interviewer only asked about a mistake I made, but of course, I would have to make a positive experience out of it. It would have to show that I understand when I’m facing a problem and am able to solve it. Not only this, but that I am able to learn from the mistake. The best way to do this is mention a specific anecdote with concrete evidence by using the STAR approach.

STAR is an easy to remember acronym with four basic steps: situation, what happened; task, what the goal was; action, what I did; and result, what happened after.

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Hopefully, this is you

After several days of mulling this question over, I think I was able to come up with a good response.

Situation

“My first year at Framingham State, I was automatically dropped from Oceanography because there was an error with my account. By the time I got my PIN so I could register again, the class had filled up.”

Task

“I hadn’t paid close enough attention to my bill, I thought that everything was taken care of, but things can always go wrong. The class was a requirement for me to graduate. I had to contact the professor to see if there was any way that I would still be able to get into the class.”

Action

“I emailed the professor for the class. He said he understood and could sympathize with my situation. He told me that he would sign an override form for me so I could take the class, even though it was at maximum enrollment.”

Result

“I got into the course after I submitted the override form to the registrar’s office. I completed the class and I was able to get the necessary credits. Though I was able to fix the problem with effective communication, it was something that could have been prevented. I should have paid more attention to my student account to make sure that everything was taken care of. From this experience, I learned that it always pays to pay attention.”

The STAR approach is useful for many interview questions. You can use it whenever a question asks for a specific situation. The best response will recall a difficult situation you had to deal with. I understand the STAR approach and was able to use it to answer several other questions.

I made a mistake once in a mock interview. I couldn’t give a good answer when I was asked something quite simple. I explained that I couldn’t think of anything to say so I told him as much. I realized that this is a question that potential employers may ask, and you’ve got to be able to think on the fly if you get a question that you’re not ready for.

Playing the Field

Written by Jesse Sannicandro

“Great moments are born from great opportunity, and that’s what you have here tonight, boys.”

-Herb Brooks, US Men’s Hockey Coach

Playing sports in your youth may have been inspired by dreams of grandeur. You probably had sports heroes that you looked up to and aspired to be. You may not have become the next Tom Brady, but being an athlete is a great opportunity to learn life skills and develop relationships that can last a lifetime.

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Tom Brady

The National Association of Colleges and Employers did a survey to find the top 20 desired soft skills that employers seek in an applicant’s resume. More than half of these attributes can be learned by being part of an athletic team.

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Attributes employers seek in a candidate’s resume

I recently spoke with Mark Flynn, co-creator and Chief Operating Officer of The Process, a company that was featured at CSER’s weekly Employer Showcase. The Framingham-based company helps high school athletes pursue higher education by placing them in college. Mark played football at Springfield College and works with, and employs student-athletes. This position gives him an excellent perspective on the positive qualities that student-athletes embody. I asked him what qualities make student-athletes good workers, and what advice he would give to those who are still in school.

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Mark Flynn

He explained that the qualities that make student-athletes good workers are their “competitive nature, work ethic, drive, and self-motivation.” To sum it up he said, “they understand what it takes to get it done.” As advice to athletes still completing their undergraduate studies, Mark said, “Keep your grades up, that’s number one” and “make sure you maintain relationships with alumni.”
For further reading material, you can look at the NCAA’s website. They have a page called After The Game that is dedicated to “helping [student-athletes] gain employment in their chosen profession at all stages of their professional career.” This is a great resource where you can post your resume and find employers who are specifically looking for student-athletes.

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Think of life as a student-athlete as the beginning of your professional life. You can parlay the skills and relationships that you build by playing sports into a fulfilling career.

“Don’t give up.  Don’t ever give up.”

-Jim Valvano, North Carolina State University Men’s Basketball Head Coach