Resources for the Professional Workplace

From interview preparation to examples of ethical dilemmas you may experience in the job search process, there are a number of resources available to support you as you prepare for your career after Smeal.

From interview preparation to examples of ethical dilemmas you may experience in the job search process, there are a number of resources available to support you as you prepare for your career after Smeal.

Internship and Job Search Process

Employers are seeking to hire persons of integrity, and students should be prepared to explain a time when they experienced an ethical dilemma. How did you handle it? What would you do to handle it differently in the future? To prepare for these interview questions, you may want to review the article, Can You Interview for Integrity? by William C. Byham, or the article, How to Interview to Uncover a Candidate’s Ethical Standards by Dona Dezube. You should also contact Career and Corporate Connections to schedule a mock interview.

In addition to preparing for an internship or job interview, students should also work towards building their personal brand. You can start by considering your online profile. View some social media best practices to enhance your personal brand.

Ethical Dilemmas in Practice

Practice, practice, practice. In an effort to prepare for some of the ethical dilemmas that you may experience in the job search process, consider these real ethical dilemmas as well as some suggestions for handling these difficult situations:

THE OFFER:  You have accepted a job with a company close to your parents' house. Now your dream company is coming to campus. You have the opportunity to attend an information session and submit materials for consideration.
What should you do? You made a commitment to the original company. Reneging has negative implications for your reputation and the reputation of all Smeal graduates. By attending the upcoming session and submitting materials, you may prevent another student from securing a job. Contact the career office for guidance.

THE DINNER:  Last week you responded "yes" to attending tonight's etiquette dinner with corporate recruiters. Now your schedule - two exams, and an upcoming canning trip, and a group project - have you feeling very overwhelmed.
What should you do? Although academic demands should be top priority, you made a commitment. The dinner has been paid for, you have a seat, and the recruiters are expecting you. Contact the event planner to discuss the situation. A waiting list may allow another student to attend. If not, you should honor your commitment.

THE INTERVIEW:  After uncomfortably looking you over from head to toe at the start of the interview, the recruiter asks if you are "attached" and if that would prevent work travel. At the end he says to call the cell on his card with any questions or to arrange to meet for drinks later.
What should you do? Accept the business card and thank the recruiter for his time. Do not respond to the invitation. If pressed, tell him a meeting would be inappropriate. Contact the career office immediately to discuss your experience, ensuring that his behavior will be addressed and others will not experience the same treatment. 

THE RECEPTION:  You and several of your classmates are attending an evening reception at a professional conference. During the event, you notice one of your classmates has had too much to drink.
What should you do? You are representatives of Smeal. Your conference badges make the affiliation clear. Suggest to your classmate that it may be time to call it a night. Along with your peers, arrange to get your classmate back to his or her room safely.

THE SUPERVISOR:  After a trip to corporate headquarters, your internship supervisor tells you to obtain a meal reimbursement from the financial office for both of you. The meals were covered by corporate and neither of you had out-of-pocket expenses.
What should you do? Meet with your supervisor to ask for clarification and to say that you do not intend to ask for reimbursement because you had no expenses to reimburse. If your supervisor insists that you do as your told, report the situation to the internship coordinator and ask for assistance.

THE OUTINGS:  You overhear a group of other male interns talking about their recent golf outings with the manager. You and the other female interns feel left out, but you don't know how to raise this issue with the manager.
What should you do? You might consider asking your manager for a brief meeting and sharing your concerns. You might even ask the other female interns to join you in the meeting.

THE INTERN:  While on your internship, you walk past the break room and overhear your manager talking to a few of his buddies about a fellow female intern - how attractive she is and that she is "asking for it."
What should you do? Report the situation to the company's HR manager. Although you may not have all of the information, a description of what you heard and who else was part of the conversation will be helpful. You might also say something to your fellow intern so that she can prepare herself of what your manager might say or do.

THE MANAGER:  After just one week in your internship, you can't help but to notice how your manager does not make eye contact, stares at your chest area in meetings, and is increasingly making borderline inappropriate comments to you.
What should you do? This behavior likely qualifies as sexual harassment. You should talk with the company's human resources manager to let him or her know what is happening and how you are feeling so that this behavior can be addressed.

THE VACATION:  You learn of an opportunity to travel with some of your friends during the last week of your summer internship. Your friends suggest that you just tell your boss you need to leave a week early due to a family obligation.
What should you do? Even though the internship is a temporary assignment, you committed to the internship and the program is counting on you to complete your contract. You should decline the invitation and suggest planning another time to travel.