Making the Most of Your Internship

Three years ago we faced a unique challenge. We knew emerging social platforms were presenting unprecedented opportunities to build meaningful and lasting relationships with our customers. But no one in our industry, including MATRIX, was doing it well. So, on a limb, we hired a socially savvy intern to help us create a solution. Today, with a focus on engagement and content, I would argue that no one in our business is better at building relationships through social platforms. If it was not for the intern’s fresh ideas and new outlook, we would not be the market leader we are. Oh, and that intern, she is already a leader at MATRIX and undoubtedly one of our most valuable employees.

Fast-forward to 2014 and you will see I have never been more bullish on the mutual value an intern program can create. Today, we have twelve interns from nine universities working across three different states. They are driving real growth and adding tremendous value to our organization. In return, they are getting some sweet, real business experience. Each day they are entrenched in emerging technology, data & financial analysis, marketing and sales. All while being paid well and having fun.

Making the Most of Your Internship

That said, not every intern is the same and some will not work out. Often, what makes us successful are intrinsic skills that you did nothing to earn or learn. Sure, they can be sharpened, but you were either born with it or not. However, every semester a few always rise to the top and really stand out. And those few consistently demonstrate behaviors that can be learned. Lucky enough to land a paid internship? Keep reading. Below are a few consistent characteristics of interns who put their careers on the fast track.

Take Initiative
They ask for work instead of waiting to be assigned tasks. They spot patterns and complete repetitive duties without having to be told each time.

They tell you what has been accomplished before leaving and let you know when an assigned task has been completed. They ask good questions and are not afraid to ask others for help.

They show up on time, consistently. When we give them the freedom to create their own schedule, they stick to it.

They build trust by doing what they say they are going to do and taking pride in their work. They get over their fear and talk to other employees.

Work Ethic
They accomplish things. They understand what their expectations are and exceed them. They ask for more to do. There is no slacking and you will not see them on Facebook or sending snapchats.

Has your company benefited from an internship program? Tweet your thoughts to @MATRIXResources.

About the Author: 

Justin Thomason is the Regional Director of Recruiting at MATRIX. His expertise includes hiring, training, and leading world class recruiting organizations. With a focus on innovative delivery strategies, Justin's recruiting teams specialize in leveraging social media to develop lasting relationships with talented IT professionals.

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How to Focus Your Job Search for Success

I speak with overwhelmed job seekers every week who can't seem to gain any traction in their job search. They tell me, "I'm applying for just about anything that will pay me". This, my friends, will get you nowhere. My suggestion to the job seeker is to stop the scatter-shooting and laser focus your search.How to Focus Your Job Search for Success

Here is a great way to start narrowing your focus. Make some lists. Start with a list of things you have recently been paid to do. Your next list is of things you like to do. Then make a list of things that you have been paid to do that you like to do. Finally make a list of things that you like to do and are most likely to get paid to do. This last list is where you should focus your job search.

If you are applying for jobs that you are not really interested in just to see if you can get an interview and possibly a pay check, that probably won't pan out well. But if you really target jobs that are specific to what you do and what you like, your chances of success go way up. Your attitude towards these jobs will be better and your enthusiasm will show in the interview process.

Once you have your narrowed list, try to identify some companies who might hire someone to do the things that meet your focus. Find people on Linkedin who work for those companies. Look at the Linkedin groups those people participate in and join them. Participate in those groups a couple of times a week by posting interesting and relevant links to articles or new items and by asking or answering questions.

After you have participated in these groups for 2 or three weeks, and shown yourself to be an active and valuable resource, ask the members who work for the companies you have identified to join your network. Let them know you are in job search mode are interested in learning more about their experience with their company. Continue to build rapport and finally ask these new members of your network if they would feel comfortable referring you in to their employer. Maybe even invite them to coffee to make the request.

When you have a focus and a target for your job search, you give yourself direction and a better chance for success. A huge percentage of corporate placements happen by referral. So focus, identify, network and get referred in. Happy job hunting!

To read the original post on TalentNet, please click here.

About the Author: 

Craig Fisher is a recruitment consultant, social media strategist and trainer, and serial entrepreneur. He consults with some of the world’s top companies on using social media for sales, marketing, recruiting, employer branding, and talent attraction. He is a featured author and speaker in industry publications and at conference events internationally. Craig created and hosts the original social recruiting forum on Twitter, TalentNet Live (#talentnet), and the TalentNet Live Social Recruiting/HR conferences. Follow Craig on Twitter @fishdogs and @TalentNet.

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Job Seeker

The Three Cs of Recruiting Successfully

As an IT professional, how do you prefer to be recruited? You’re in high demand right now, and are likely being contacted by recruiters on a weekly basis. You might be thinking, “I don’t want to be recruited.”The Three Cs of Recruiting Successfully Or maybe you don’t mind an email here and there as long as it’s perfectly aligned with your skillset.

Last Friday, I attended TalentNet Live Dallas, a strategic recruiting conference featuring leaders from some of the biggest brands in the world including Capital One, Yum! Brands, AT&T, Pepsico and many more.

Now, I’m not a recruiter, but I do work for a company that specializes in recruiting. My job, ultimately, is to discover how to engage with candidates in a way they actually want to be engaged. Below are my key takeaways from TalentNet. I’m curious if they are what you would expect HR buffs to talk about at a conference – and if they ring true to what you are looking for in a company.


“Beer Friday doesn’t make your company unique…people do.” – Craig Fisher, CEO at TalentNet

Culture has become more and more of a deciding factor in whether or not a company is considered appealing. But when it comes down to it, is a stocked bar or arcade room in an office really going to make you a happy employee? Craig Fisher emphasized that it’s the people in the office that define a great culture – not the foosball table. Another big point the speakers stressed was how often you recognize the people in your company. Appreciating and celebrating your employees is essential for good morale. As Tiffany Harvey from Southwest pointed out, happy employees = happy customers.
How do you define culture? And how much of a factor is it for you when choosing a place of employment?


“If you’re not listening, you’re operating blind.” – Tommy Blanchard, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Capital One

As a Content Specialist, I was happy to find that content was an overarching theme at TalentNet. Authenticity and engagement were big buzzwords as far as what companies should focus on when creating content. Tommy said the above quote as he discussed the most important factors when speaking with potential candidates. In the same way, I don’t want to blindly post content to our audience – I want to post the things that people are interested in seeing.
What kind of content do you want to see from employers?

Customer Service

“Our business is customer service, we just happen to fly airplanes.” – Tiffany Harvey, Employment Lead at Southwest Airlines

This quote is one of the founding principles at Southwest Airlines. Many are familiar with the fun culture promoted at Southwest – they even have a culture department! But the real reason they are so adored by customers is the level of service they provide. On the agency side of customer service, the speakers reminded us that we are a business of humans working with humans, not placements. At MATRIX, our focus is building and nurturing relationships so that we can fulfill the needs of our customers. We would be nothing without our relationships.
What companies have stood out to you with their customer service? Why?

I’d love to get your feedback on these points. Leave a comment below or tweet your thoughts at @MATRIXResources.

About the Author: 

Jennifer is the Digital Content Specialist for MATRIX. Her primary mission is to understand what information our various communities want and need from MATRIX, and to deliver it to them in ways that are enlightening, engaging and in sync with who we are as a company. She loves pop culture, Oklahoma football and the great state of Texas. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Did you join in?

MATRIX Atlanta ALS Challenge

Still wondering why your timeline was full of people dumping ice cold water over themselves last month? They were participating in a viral movement to attract attention and money to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” It’s unclear how the challenge actually started, as the earliest roots go back to 2013. However, August 2014 was definitely the peak. As of August 29th, the challenge has raised $100.9 million for the ALS Association, not including donations to other ALS research programs. Fortunately, it seems the challenge has winded down and is just about gone from our newsfeeds.

Our MATRIX headquarters in Atlanta participated in the challenge after being nominated by multiple employees. Those employees then nominated the Dallas, RTP, and Houston offices resulting in numerous Ice Bucket Challenge videos and donations throughout the company. To take the challenge a step further, MATRIX vowed to match every dollar that employees donated. So far, MATRIX has raised $2,091 for ALS.

Of course there has been some controversy surrounding the challenge, but that comes with anything that goes this viral. The real question is how did it catch on so quickly?

The reason the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been able to attract attention from your family, friends, favorite celebrities, and political figures is because it focuses on one thing in a unique and genuine way: people. The challenge is not only entertaining, but it socially bonds us to others who’ve participated while making us feel good inside.

Visit our Facebook page to see all six videos from our offices. Did you participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge? Feel free to share your own photos below!

About the Author: 

Danielle is a graduate student earning a master’s degree in public relations and marketing from the University of Denver. She enjoys developing strategy in a variety of areas, from playing fantasy football to reaching goals for clients. She is receptive to learning about new opportunities and ideas. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Take Control of Your Time and Reach Your Goals

If after all these years of leading your team, you still say things like “I’m totally slammed this week” or “I’m working weekends just to get by,” you are doing something wrong.

If this sounds harsh, it is meant to challenge you to truly evaluate the way you run your business, and make changes that allow you to work ON your business and stop working FOR your business. Here are some signs that this is your issue also:

  • Are you often late to meetings or appointments?
  • Do you stay long after the last employee has gone home?
  • Do you have days where your time belongs to everyone else but you?
  • Is every issue an emergency and you spend your day putting out fires?
  • Are you frustrated that things have not moved forward like you expected?
  • Do you set goals and don’t hit them – or worse – do you not even have goals?

Hard work is necessary to start a BUSINESS, smart work is needed to grow it into a COMPANY, and focused work is needed to build it into an ORGANIZATION.

Contrary to some beliefs, we don’t work better under stress – we just work faster. The quality of the work is often worse than it would be if it were done under the proper conditions. The pressure to get things done is good, but stress comes when you are not in control of the situation. Most employees say having a good “Boss” can make or break their job, and as the leader of your team, you set the tone for everyone else.

This month, the members of Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas will be focusing on the topic of Time Management in our monthly meeting. Regardless of the number of years they’ve led their company, or how many millions of dollars their business generates each year, all of them are focused on accomplishing their goals in a timely manner, and this was the topic we needed to focus on.

I have found that most leaders know what to do, they just can’t seem to get it done. There are many reasons why this happens, and one reason is poor planning. So, for the sake of good time management, we’ll address just one issue today – planning.


There are three key areas I suggest you focus on in order to develop a lifestyle of proper planning. This applies to your work and your personal life; as one area is never good, when the other is not taken care of.  These three areas are Setting Goals, Tracking Them, Being Accountable.Take Control of Your Time and Reach Your Goals

Set Goals - In life, we are often distracted by the “Tyranny of the Urgent” type issues that pop up and leave behind the important ones. This increases the size of your “To Do” list and keeps you from accomplishing the things that will truly help you reach your goals on time. As Zig Ziglar once said, “It’s not about a lack of time but a lack of direction.”

You have a lot on your mind and you need to have a clear and compelling vision of where you are leading your team in order to know what needs to be done, and the order in which it should be done.

Often we see our team members doing SOMETHING for the sake of doing something, but not really knowing where they are going or where they want to be. They feel that if they do enough of SOMETHING long enough, then they are sure to get somewhere. It just may not be where you wanted them to go.

For example, if you want to “grow” your company, you need to have goals in mind that will direct the team efforts. These would be a few things to consider:

  • How much Growth?
  • Over what period of time?
  • In what market?
  • With what products or services?
  • Is it Top-line or Bottom-line growth, or both?
  • What does the team need to do in order to handle this growth?

By knowing where you are going, and getting your team onboard with your plans, you can set clear goals everyone can follow.

Track Tasks - Written goals are essential for success. If you don’t have a plan in writing that everyone can follow, your team can easily lose direction and delay your results. Most people have heard about setting SMART goals, so I won’t list them here, but this is a link that will refresh your memory about the definition of SMART goals. Once you have these goals laid out, you can create projects and tasks for each team member to follow in order to reach your goals in a timely manner. This is what should drive the work of your team, and it needs to be written down and tracked so you can see the progress, offer help where needed, and praise for successes.

I use a “TOP 5″ sheet that I picked up during my days with US Leadership. This is the engine that move my goals into actions. The real value is not just filling out the sheet, but how it fills out your calendar each week. I have tasks and projects that I want to complete for both my personal and business life. These are written lout in my weekly TOP 5 so I keep on target with deadlines, and meet my goals.

Let your goals and tasks determine what your calendar looks like, and not the other way around. This way you’ll never have to say “I just didn’t have time to get it done this week.” I also review them with others so we hold each other accountable.

Be accountable - As leaders, we tend to give ourselves a break when we don’t do what we’re supposed to. We show up late, change our own plans and deadlines, ignore the policies and procedures we insist others follow, and no one can tell us we’re wrong. (I know that’s not you. I’m talking about other people of course.)

This is why people pay someone to be a Life Coach or Business Consultant, even though they already know what they should be doing. I once met with a group of business leaders who have been in a peer group of Owners and CEO’s of very successful companies. As I shared the model of REF Dallas with them, one said to me in front of the group “I’d pay you a $1,000 a month just to hold me accountable.” Here was a group that has been together for 10 years but they’d lost one of the key values of a peer group, Accountability. Find someone who you will allow yourself to be truly accountable to, and then be transparent with them so they can help you lead with excellence.

About the Author: 

Robert Hunt is a Forum Leader with Renaissance Executive Forums and the Owner of Hunt Consulting DFW.  He has a background in Marketing and Business Development with over 25 years of leadership in technically demanding industries such as Aerospace, Composites, Printed Circuit Boards, and Wireless Telecommunications.

Robert’s PASSION is to help leaders reach their business and personal goals, using the gifts GOD has given him, and the skills he developed over the last 30 years as a leader. As a Business Partner and Forum Leader with Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas, he brings Owners, CEO’s, and Presidents together in a monthly confidential setting designed to challenge, motivate, inspire and hold each other accountable to reaching their goals.

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Hiring Manager