Put your knowledge to work: Get an internship, get a job

internHiring managers want to see proof that you can do the job. That proof – also known as professional experience – is the thing that trumps just about all other resume bullet points. You’ve learned a lot of theory and strategies in class, but potential bosses want to know if you can apply that knowledge to problems in the workplace. As a student, or someone breaking into the field, an internship is probably the most effective way to gain real-world experience, and, in a lot of cases, a job.


Students, here’s just a few of the place in Chicagoland offering training and development, instructional design and organizaional development internships.
Mariano’s: Instructional Design Graduate Intern Mariano’s Chicago
McDonald’s Corporation: Instructional Design Intern, Instructional Designer, Global Training, Learning, & Performance
Vibes: Human Resources and Organizational Development Paid Internship
See what’s out there: Don’t forget to visit the jobs page right here on this blog.

A first-Hand Account

Roosevelt Training and Development Grad Assistant Larissa Zando, who interned at McDonald’s Corporate headquarters last summer, not only can vouch for the valuable experience you gain as an intern, but she can tell you how to get the most out of the experience:

Larissa Zando is a graduate assistant and second-year student in Roosevelt's Training & Development program.

Larissa Zando is a graduate assistant and second-year student in Roosevelt’s Training & Development program.

Some of you may be transitioning into the training and development field and have no prior work experience within the field. After reviewing some job postings you realize that you need experience to get a job but you need a job to get the experience. On the http://www.rutraining.org blog, I wrote a post called, Are you set up for success? Here are 11 ways to boost your career prospects in the field of training and development and in this I provided ideas to help you establish yourself in the field and one way is to have an internship. Internships are a great way to get hands- on real world work experience. If you are in interested in reading my post, click on the following link. https://rutraining.org/2013/09/30/are-you-set-up-for-success-here-are-11-ways-to-boost-your-career-prospects-in-the-field-of-training-and-development/.

I want to share my internship experience and five tips to help you in your internship. I had an amazing opportunity to intern this past summer at McDonalds Corporation. I interned for the Design team within the U.S. Training, Learning, and Development Department. It was fast paced, I learned a lot about our field and how a large training organization functions. Everyone I met was eager to help me to succeed by providing coaching and advice along the way. The culture at McDonald’s is about building relationships, networking, coaching, and being a family.

Now I will go over my experience on the design team. I experienced a variety of training functions and projects. I attended various meetings such as the Curriculum Owners, Mid-Managers Development (MMD) Project Management, MMD Design Team, MMD Working Sessions, SME review- approval and the dry run for the MMD Advance Class. Attending these meetings allowed me to get a better understanding of what goes into designing, managing, and maintaining curricula and the various stages that are involved.

One of the first projects that I worked on was the People Manager Assessment. I worked with the Subject Matter Experts in revising poorly performing assessment questions, updating the questions in the Learning Management System. As a result, we were able to reduce the average attempts to pass the assessments to less than two attempts. I learned how to write effective questions.

Another project that I worked on was updating the learning outcomes for the MMD Advance Class facilitator guides. Some learning outcomes needed to be revised to be more effective or they were missing for some learning activities. By updating these outcomes, the facilitators will have a better understanding learners outcomes and the course will meet the American Council on Education (ACE) guidelines for approval for college credit.

Other opportunities or projects that I worked on included converting an e-learning course using Articulate Storyline, working with project management tools, and updating the team’s scorecard. I learned how to conduct effective focus groups and write effective questions to get the information that is needed to assess the learning needs and results of the groups. I also took part in training sessions using Saba meeting and participated in a mock Virtual Class. This mock VC allowed one of the designers to update the facilitator guide for a virtual class with instruction on using Saba meeting.

The projects that I worked on had an impact on the overall performance of the organization and the individual learner. The contributions that I made had a direct or indirect impact on the corporation’s and U.S. Training, Learning, and Development Plan-To-Win business plan and vision. The areas that were impacted included maintain and improve the curriculum and tools in the LMS, enhance mid-manager performance and increase curriculum effectiveness and customer satisfaction results.

This internship far exceeded my expectations. It was an amazing three months. It provided me the opportunity to see what goes into designing curriculum from start to finish, the various roles, and how they interconnected. It allowed me to apply the theories that I have learned in my coursework to real-world projects. This internship helped me develop and improve my communication, time management, and project management skills. The biggest takeaway is the relationships that I made here.

Now, the following are five tips that will help be successful in your internship.

  1. Network: Build relationships, have one-on-one meetings with various people including management. Learn about their roles and backgrounds and try to get advice on how to be successful at the company while you are there. They will also become great references when you start looking for a position.
  2. Culture: Learn the culture, find out what is important to the team, and learn their “language”. I came from sales which was a bit cut throat and you did your own thing. McDonald’s was totally opposite to what I had experienced in the corporate culture. For example, they are a family and this was demonstrated by the department having lunch together every day.
  3. Participate: If the company has a formal internship program, take advantage of the opportunities they provide to network with other interns and the senior management. If you are older and making a career change, hanging out with undergraduates that are in the early twenties might not seem like fun but it is still a great way to network, learn about a different generation, just relax and fun.
  4. Work on projects that interest you. Ask to work on projects that interest you and the ones that you need to develop a particular skill. I was interested in writing the learning outcomes and I didn’t have any experience with authoring tools and project management. I was able to do these projects just by asking. Also, take a look at the job descriptions for their department. Try to incorporate the skills they are looking for to help you get a position with them in the future.
  5. Ask questions: Do not be afraid to ask questions if you do not understand a project and your responsibilities for a project. You are there to learn and they want you to succeed.

Have you participated in a training and development internship? What advice can you provide for others to make their experience a success?

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