johnny c. Taylor Jr.
Johnny C. Taylor Jr. addresses your human resources questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest human resource professional society, and the author of “Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval.”
Questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s responses below have been edited for length and clarity.
I have a question? Do you have a human resources or job-related question you’d like answered? Send it here.
Question: I am a 3rd year student working towards a bachelor’s degree in Art Design. I want to participate in an internship program at the end of my winter semester. How should I start my search? Is it too soon to start looking now? –Alexa
Johnny C. Taylor Jr.: Now is a good time to start your search for an internship program. It’s not uncommon for students to start looking for internships even earlier.
Start your search by talking to your school’s career counselor to see what internships are currently being advertised. Colleges and universities really care about helping students find internships and full-time jobs. Use their interests and services in your favor.
Take advantage of your school’s reputation and relationships. Learn about organizations with a history of hiring students from your school for internships and paid positions. Don’t limit your search to just creative organizations. Look for an organization that actively recruits students in the arts and other disciplines. Keep in mind that almost all businesses require creative artists for graphic design, web development, and promotional materials. Companies that recruit at your school often do so because they are confident in the caliber of students in their programs.
Many internships are hidden, meaning they may be available but not advertised. So please contact these organizations directly to see if they have any hidden internship opportunities available.
Teachers can be a great resource for potential clients. Their relationships with former students give them insight into companies looking to hire students. Find out if your school has an art major alumni group where you can post your resume. Look for art associations with networking events where you can meet others in your field who can suggest tips for your internship search.
Going further, even if a lead doesn’t work right away, see it as a valuable lesson for the future. Get feedback on what organizations want in candidates and the best times to reach out. This is an opportunity to develop an understanding of the dynamics of your industry. This is just as important to your career as the skills you develop in school. Take advantage of each connection to learn more about what you can do to access and attract future opportunities.
Good luck in your search!
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Q: We have recently returned to full-time remote work. Interruptions in my day due to household responsibilities, children, and pets have made it challenging. With so many transitions between work and home life in a day, I have a hard time concentrating and being as productive as I have been in an office environment. What can I do to work better remotely? – Bashir
Taylor: Working from home certainly comes with its own set of challenges! Our jobs require concentration, and the home environment is not inherently conducive to this for a number of reasons.
You are not alone if you feel unproductive. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 43% of employees worry that other people don’t think they’re working hard enough while working remotely.
Working from home doesn’t come naturally to many workers. People used to working on site usually don’t set up their home to be a functional workspace. The pressure to be available, meet deadlines, and be productive while working virtually can be overwhelming for those who are unprepared. There are several practices you can apply to ensure the success of your remote work.
First, organize your schedule and avoid shifting gears as much as reasonably possible. Have set work schedules and try not to deviate from them. When the workday is over, close the office door. Set aside specific blocks of time throughout the day to get your kids ready for school, take care of the house, and walk the dog.
If you can, flex your work hours to coincide with quiet times. Try to start your work early before the rest of the house wakes up. You may find that this is the most peaceful and productive part of your day. If mornings aren’t an option, maybe plan to work after your family has fallen asleep.
If your kids are also home learning remotely, try to set aside time to have lunch with them each day to talk about how they’re doing and what they’re learning. Fewer feelings are worse than parental guilt when you have to ignore your child because he wants your attention while you are working.
Housework can wait. When you worked in an office, household chores didn’t demand your attention during the day. This does not need to change now. Close the laundry room door, cover the dirty dishes in the sink, and forget about it until the workday is over. If necessary, spend some time on tasks outside of your work hours.
Dress up your workspace for work, whether that’s by organizing your desk and minimizing visual distractions, like views of other people moving around your house or views of neighbors outside the window.
If your work space is set up in your bedroom, make your bed and keep the space tidy to avoid being distracted by a mess you feel you need to clean up. Eliminate any noise by using noise-cancelling headphones, earphones, a white noise machine, or music.
I’ll be the first to admit that sweats are comfortable, but putting on more formal clothing can also help give you better headspace for the workday.
Finally, don’t forget to schedule time to socialize and relax. And keep those lines of communication open with your manager, colleagues and/or subordinates. When we can’t be face to face, communication becomes more important than ever.
Don’t punish yourself. It can take some time and effort to find a more productive workflow at home. With a little intentional effort and forethought, you’ll be well on your way. hang there.