From the Intern's Desk

thoughts, tools, tips, and tricks from the perpetual intern

Archive for the category “School”

Best Types of Voice Recorders

A voice recorder is a great investment for an intern. A digital voice recorder will make it easier to conduct interviews and log information. The many benefits of a voice recorder include durability, ease of use, quality and an extended life. When you have a hand cramp from writing constantly in meetings with your awesome pen, maybe it’s time for a voice recorder.

Get a smaller voice recorder. It fits in a pocket or a purse and sits discreetly on a table during an interview. A quality recorder will have a hold switch that locks its keys. The hold switch is necessary when it’s in a pocket to prevent it from going off accidentally.

Consider several different options when buying a voice recorder:

  1. Price – Ranging from $30 to over $100. Buying a cheap one is easy, though unlikely to last past your internship. A quality recorder will cost closer to $50. Google Products allows you to compare prices of voice recorders on websites such as Amazon, Walmart, and other office supply stores.
  2. Features – For example, connectivity. Can you plug it into your computer via USB? USB connection saves the data on your computer, usually as an MP3. Saving work is important with a recorder so you don’t accidentally record over your last interview. Plan on primarily conducting interviews? A microphone jack may be necessary to get high-quality sound. A less common feature, make sure to do your research before purchasing to see if your choice has a jack.
  3. Storage – Another important feature – storage. How much data can the recorder hold? If you can transfer the data to your computer, that may not be important. Recording long meetings can suck up space. The recorder should have 1GB at least of storage space.

Suggestions:

Sony ICD-PX820 Digital Voice Recorder w/ 2GB Flash Memory and Dictation Correction (available at Walmart, click photo)
-includes USB connection, reasonably priced

Sony ICD-PX820 Digital Voice Recorder w/ 2GB Flash Memory and Dictation Correction

Panasonic RR-US571 2GB IC Recorder Built-In Zoom Microphone Noise Cut (Google products link, click photo)
-feature-packed, worth the investment

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Best Types of Pens

Bic, Paper-Mate, Uni-ball, Pilot — all kinds of pens serve the intern well. Pens are better than pencils for taking notes because they don’t break, write darker and more fluidly and make a business-like clicking noise. Clicking noises say it’s business time.

Pens are the first thing an intern needs to have in his or her toolkit. Lots of them. Pens are cheap and easy to carry around. They also tend to disappear. Having a multitude of pens in colors such as black, blue, red and even purple diversify your notes and make them easy to scan for important information. Plus, someone always wants to borrow a pen. Just having more than one in your possession will make you the favorite intern. Multiple colors? Bonus points!

Of all the pens you can get at any office supply store, there are a few that easily outperform the others in the aisle. They can also be a really great deal. Bargain plus quality equals the list of my top five basic pens. After rigorous testing, I’ve finally come to some conclusions on the best types of pens.

And the winners are…

  1. Paper-Mate Profile – With a thicker point and smoother writing than an average pen, this pen has never let me down. I’ve been through countless of these pens in my school note-taking career. I can only imagine how many I’ll go through as a working adult. The grip goes almost to the tip of the pen for maximum comfort. The click is loud but not too loud, just loud enough to be satisfying. The near-perfect pen.
  2. Bic Round Stic Grip – A pen with wonderful writing quality but comes in second because it’s not retractable. Fluid, dark ink and extremely cheap. The added grip greatly improves this version over the classic Round Stic. A lighter pen that’s suited for taking notes. Keep a bunch in your bag.
  3. Sharpie Pen – This could almost be the perfect pen if it weren’t on the expensive side. This pen has its own website. It honestly deserves it. It meets all of a good pen’s qualifications: it doesn’t bleed through paper, it’s smear-resistant and it writes smoothly. The felt tip leaves an extra dark mark and allows the ink to flow smoothly. A solid investment. Also not retractable.
  4. Pentel R.S.V.P. RT Colors – These pens have been a stand-by for me for a long time due to their superb ink. Hard to describe but difficult to put down. Accessioning books was easy for my librarian mother with these pens. Writing for hours seemed effortless. I finally saw a retractable version in Staples. Of course I bought them. You should, too.
  5. Uni-ball Roller Grip – For the more traditional intern. The scratching noise these pens make on paper is irresistible. The ink is more like a liquid than an average pen. The body also has more heft. It feels expensive. Looking professional was never this easy.

One pen, though, is the cream of the crop. It’s my favorite pen by far. It’s significantly more of an investment than the Sharpie pen. But for serious interns, this is ideal to put on your wishlist. My favorite pen ever is a Cross black and chrome ballpoint. It’s an older model, but has served me well over the years. I used to save it for writing thank you notes and in my diary. Now it works well for signing important documents and writing down assignments. I won’t just take this pen anywhere though in fear of losing it. This is one of those pens that stays on my desk.

The Cross pen sitting on my desk where it belongs

It doesn’t matter what pen you end up choosing. Every pen suits a different owner. Use them with confidence. Learn to love your mistakes! Pens are always permanent. Internships are not. Write and work fearlessly. Stay tuned for the next post about what’s in your toolkit, and feel free to share your favorite pens in the comments below.

On Higher Education – Should You Go to Graduate School?

The movie “The Graduate” may feel familiar to recent college grads. Not the having-an-affair part, the “so what are you going to do with the rest of your life?” question asked time after time once you cross the stage. Is it all too overwhelming? It was for Benjamin Braddock:

Mr. Braddock: What’s the matter? The guests are all downstairs, Ben, waiting to see you.
Benjamin: Look, Dad, could you explain to them that I have to be alone for a while?
Mr. Braddock: These are all our good friends, Ben. Most of them have known you since, well, practically since you were born. What is it, Ben?
Benjamin: I’m just…
Mr. Braddock: Worried?
Benjamin: Well…
Mr. Braddock: About what?
Benjamin: I guess about my future.
Mr. Braddock: What about it?
Benjamin: I don’t know… I want it to be…
Mr. Braddock: To be what?
Benjamin: [looks at his father] … Different.

(courtesy imdb.com)

We recently had a guest speaker in my introduction to public relations class. His name is Dan Schawbel, and he’s known for speaking and writing about “personal branding” in many different venues. Dan gave us tips on how to create a name for ourselves in the competitive world of job hunting. He also told us he never planned on going back to school to get his master’s degree unless he planned on becoming a teacher. Our instructor, Dr. Dawn Gilpin, also said she recommends getting experience in the work world so you know what you want to do before you make the grad school investment.

Personally, I intend to graduate from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a Master’s in Mass Communication. Concurrent degrees, four years and a scholarship and I’ll be done. My major reason for doing this is that I think it’ll give me a competitive edge when I apply for jobs. I want to make the most out of my experience here, and (of course) the most out of my tuition.

Not everyone is in the same boat as I am when it comes to getting a graduate degree. How do you know if it’s worth your time and money? We all may have the desire to learn, but not always the resources to do it. Here are some reasons why graduate school may be right for you – even if it isn’t for Dan Schawbel:

  1. You don’t have a full-time job (or you have the opportunity and the means to be without one) – Unless you’re lucky enough to work for a company that will pay for school,  you need to make a plan as to how you’re going to get by without one. (Speaking of companies paying for school, see this great article to find how to get someone else to foot the bill.) Being a fresh graduate can be an advantage in this case. Look around and see what’s required of your desired career. Experience can range from having 3-5 years in corporate or an advanced degree, so evaluate your situation. Are you willing to go through more schooling? Bringing me to my next point…
  2. You’re a hard worker who doesn’t mind the idea of being a student – If you couldn’t wait to get out while you were still in high school, going to graduate school may not be the best for your mental health. There comes a time when what’s on your résumé isn’t as important as your personal well-being. You won’t want to put in the effort that grad school requires if you dread being there.
  3. You have an unbridled passion for your chosen field – You’d know this if it applies to you. You majored in something that you really loved. You breezed through your intro classes and relished completing the projects that few were brave enough to tackle. You’ve had at least a few internships in your field and plan on keeping those relationships for the next few years. If this sounds like you, your love may translate well into a higher learning environment, where you can blossom with your peers in geekdom.

But the number one reason grad school might NOT be for you:

  1. To you, it’s the destination, not the journey that matters – Dan Schawbel brought this up in his presentation. I think it’s his excuse for never wanting to get more education. Relish the experiences grad school brings. You never know who you might meet. If you’re focused on getting to X company and being in this position by X year, start getting jobs that will put you there. Intern, network and establish your identity. Grad school can wait until you change your goals to reach higher things.

What are some other reasons why you should go to grad school? Why you should not? Leave your answers in the comments.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite “Graduate” quotes. For Benjamin, the game wasn’t worth it. But is it for you? Only you can answer that.

——————

Benjamin: It’s like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don’t make any sense to me. They’re being made up by all the wrong people. I mean no one makes them up. They seem to make themselves up. (imdb)

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