An IT Intern’s Journey At Astyra

My First Day
My Last Day

          When I first walked into Astyra, I knew I would love it. Ashley, the Operations Admin and Executive Assistant decorates the office seasonally with happy and fun décor. The Executives, Account Managers, the Recruiting Team and the Operations Team all warmly greeted me. I was then led to my own personal desk for the summer and invited to my first ‘Monday Morning Meeting’. At the meeting, I learned everyone’s specific roles and was able to see first-hand how dedicated they are to the success of the talent they recruit. They take the work they do seriously, and all the teams work closely together to meet goals. Best of all, I realized that Astyra is a group of hardworking people who love to have fun and enjoy their day at work! 

Astyra works hard, but they also play hard too.

            Throughout my journey, Tianna, Astyra’s Corporate Communications Specialist was teaching and guiding me. She handles ALL things media: the newsletter, branding, the blog, the website and the social media pages. She also handles all things tech! This is where I would get introduced to a wealth of information that will be valuable on my educational and professional journey as a Computer Science major at Auburn University.

            My first couple of weeks focused on learning about computer networking, Astyra’s network topology (map), IT Documentation and asset management. Hands-on experience managing cables in the IT closet and troubleshooting network devices and equipment added to my experience. My next course of learning was discovering Astyra’s network security devices and learning how to use their network security software.

Creating social media content for Astyra filled my free time. This was awesome, as I had previous experience in social media management. Surprisingly, I was still learning many new things that I have since add to my toolkit!

The Operations Team met weekly and encouraged me to discuss everything I learned, what I would like to learn and any other relevant information. I always felt like I could speak up. My team was accommodating and wanted to make sure my internship experience was enjoyable.

          My last couple of weeks involved performing various administrative tasks and completing projects related to my personal career goals that I will be pursing after I graduate. In between learning loads of new skills, I was also getting to know the diverse team, making real friends and enjoying the office experience. We had frequent interactions with the executives Ken and Sam. They are hands on with the team and truly the life of the party.

I always felt welcomed and included at Astyra. It is rare to find a workplace that feels like home. Astyra even has two Leopard Geckos: Uggs and Red, who hang out in their tank at the front desk! Because of these two, I held a Leopard Gecko for the first time! Interning for Astyra has been a real treat and something that has been valuable to me personally and academically. I couldn’t be more appreciative of such a well-rounded, unique and personalized experience. I have gained a new family at Astyra, and they have been such an awesome part of my journey helping me prepare for my next steps. I am certain they will still be here to help me in any way I need in the future. I want to thank Astyra for seeing value in me and giving me the tools to be successful professionally.

How To Get More Interview Practice

The interview can be most difficult and nerve-wracking step of the job hunt process. Some of us have only had a few interviews which have all resulted in job offers, while some of us have left interviews feeling like failures. This may seem like a no-brainer but the key to interviewing is practice, practice, and MORE practice! Even if you think you’re naturally amazing at interviews, it won’t hurt to practice anyway! Here are some ways you can get more interview practice outside of the ACTUAL interviews you want to nail for that dream job.

  1. Apply for jobs you don’t want.

It sounds crazy I know, but this is an easy way to get a few practice interviews under your belt. Note, this only works if you THINK of them as practice! Apply anywhere, it doesn’t matter where. Wait for them to call you for the phone screen and practice away! If they want to interview you in person, that’s even better. There is no loss here for you since you’ll get the practice you need.

  1. Partner up with family and friends.

Set up a weekly a mock interview with your parents, siblings or even your best bud. Keeping this scheduled with a partner will also help hold you accountable to weekly practice. It is best if they choose the questions, you want this to feel like a real interview, and in a real interview you won’t know what the interviewer is going to ask!

  1. Look for official mock interview resources.

This can be an online platform or maybe the local community college that has resources set up with professional mock interviewers. Take full advantage and use as many resources as you need to practice as much as you can. Also, make sure you are practicing all KINDS of interviews, such as: the phone screen, phone interview, video/Skype interview, and the in-person interview.

After all this practice, there is no doubt interviews will become a piece of cake. Have you ever practiced interviewing? If so, how did it go? If not, do you plan to now?

A Demand For Soft Skills

Technology will always be a shifting current—what’s relevant today likely won’t be 10-20 years from now. This predicament is part of the reason that some employers find themselves consistently looking for new and fresh talent but very recently, some have come to understand that one thing will withstand the test of time: soft skills.

Universally lauded (I’m exaggerating but bear with me) and “future-proof”, as penned by harver.com, soft skills refer to things like empathy, communication, and critical thinking. These are things that “are personality-driven and… are what makes the difference between a good and a great candidate. After all, hard (tangible and technical) skills usually can be taught, while teaching someone how to show empathy is almost impossible…”

“As developments in technology are changing many industries rapidly, the demand for people with transferable, future-proof (as much as possible) and soft skills will rise.”

If you were on the fence about hiring a candidate for reasons like these, take a chance! You might be pleasantly surprised.

Boost Your Confidence – Job Seeker Style

We all hear about how important confidence is, it applies to everything in your life! Confidence in who you are, what you can do and what you believe in is what grounds you as an individual. It sets you apart from everyone else. If you’re job hunting, confidence is something you will absolutely have to master. Why? Because confidence is the key to successful careers. It’s that simple. Nobody gets where they want to be by doubting themselves! So, here’s what you can do to get some pep in your step and wear that confidence like a brand-new outfit.  

  1. Focus on your Talents.

You’re never going to feel confident selling yourself in that interview if you’re always worried about what you think you can’t do. Never automatically assume you’re unqualified for a job because you have weaknesses. Focus on what you are good at and hone those skills. Getting better at the skills you are weak in will take time but everyone possesses a talent that makes them special. Use that to your advantage!

2. Have physical proof of your accomplishments.

This can be old projects you’ve worked on, new projects you’re working on, awards, certificates, a report card from 3rdgrade… anything! Compile these items in a special way. On our Twitter, @AstyraCorp, we linked to a cool article explaining how to make a “Brag Book”. This is a portfolio composed of all of your professional accomplishments. It’s something you can look at as much as you want to and remind yourself that you’re awesome. Plus, you can bring it to an interview and really WOW that recruiter.

  1. Reframe your thoughts.
    This is the ULTIMATE Life-Hack. A million negative thoughts can pop into our minds in a single day. So practice this:if you find yourself thinking a negative thought, cancel it and think about something positive instead. Instead of thinking “That company will never hire me”… cancel it with “ Why wouldn’t that company want to hire me?! I am so smart!”. The more positive thoughts we force ourselves to have, the better and more confident we feel. All of the worry and self-doubt can be * POW! *  knocked out and cancelled, just like that. Training your brain towards positive thinking can even be a new hobby! What a win!

What will you do to really take your confidence to the next level?

Summer 2019 Superlatives

James, Ashley, Tianna, Carmen, Brittany and Melissa
As a fun bonding activity in the office and to recognize our staff, we held a company awards ceremony.
 
Throughout the week, we casted our votes for categories such as Loudest Sneeze, Best Dressed and Most Likely To Survive The Hunger Games.
 
The results were shocking to our CEO Ken who doesn’t believe he has the messiest desk!
 
We continued to learn more about ourselves and each other by taking a personality test. Although some of us are in similar categories, we have a few rare personality types too!
 
Our belief is that by gaining a greater understanding of one another, we function better as a cohesive team.

Preparing For The Big Day

If you’ve been job hunting, you know the excitement you feel when you are finally scheduling that interview you’ve been waiting for! Getting an interview is half the battle, acing the interview is the other half! Here are some tips that will help you feel like your best self on that big day.

  1. Plan your outfit the night before

It is important to choose the perfect interview outfit. Make sure it is clean, fresh and pressed. Make sure all parts of the outfit and accessories are laid out before you head to bed. In the morning, you will be confident putting on that amazing fit. If you need a more in-depth guide to creating your outfit, check out our guide!

  1. Get a fresh start

If your interview is in the morning, go to bed early and wake up early too! You want to be well rested and you do not want to feel rushed. You need enough time to get yourself looking great and eat a nice breakfast or snack. Taking your time in the morning will make you feel calm, organized and grounded. Feeling in control breeds confidence!

  1. Know the ropes

On the day of the interview, you want to have all the important information you need and we aren’t just referring to the talking points you’ve practiced. You need to know the interview time, place, directions to the site and how much time it would take for you to get there a little early. Estimate the amount of traffic to expect and fill up your gas tank if needed. Think of all the things that could set you back and prepare for them beforehand. You want to prep for a stress-free day!

  1. Give yourself pep talks

Fill your mind with positive affirmations. Sometimes, what makes you shine most in an interview is how you feel about yourself and your skills. You got this! For additional tips on managing pre-interview stress, click here.

Disability Employment And Inclusion

It’s 2019 and hiring trends are always shifting. What may have been the norm 15 years ago may not be today, and in order to keep your workforce productive and diverse, some changes have to be made.

As sad as it may sound, many employers aren’t comfortable having a conversation about hiring disabled/differently-abled individuals. There may be plenty that aren’t intentionally discriminatory but unconscious or otherwise, a bias remains and is greatly prevalent.

As of July 2018, according to BuiltIn.com (via statistics provided by Accenture.com), “less than a third of Americans with disabilities between 16 and 64 are in the workforce.” By comparison, BuiltIn cites that 75% of individuals without disabilities are currently working.

Part of that study predicted that if only 1% more people with disabilities were employed, the GDP could potentially witness a $25B increase.

To lift an excerpt from the article, “Accenture Research conducted a study that measured 140 US companies by financial performance in terms of profitability and value creation. Of the companies analyzed, 45 identified as “Champions” or leaders in disability employment and inclusion, and they saw a major lift in profitability and performance. Over four years, these companies saw an average of 28% higher revenue, doubled their net income and enjoyed 30% higher economic profit margins.”

One of the largest benefits of his practice, aside from inclusivity and potentially increased profit, is perspective. Our differences are what make the world go ‘round, and everyone deserves a fair opportunity to earn a wage and put food on their table.

All-Star Music Country Jam

Nutzy, Tianna and Nutasha
Torin gets interviewed by ABC8

The Richmond Flying Squirrels held their annual All-Star Week in early July and Astyra staff decided to join in on the festivities!

Monday’s event was a Country Music Jam with country stars Big & Rich at the Richmond International Raceway. Our Corporate Communications Specialist Tianna met with Nutzy and Nutasha and took a selfie.

Our newest Account Admin Torin was interviewed by ABC8 on his experience at All-Star Week. The news station also got a sneak peek of our President Sam and his wife walking!

Click here to see the video.

Our Controller Chris and his family went to the Eastern League All-Star game at the Diamond on Wednesday. After the game ended, there were fireworks to celebrate the end of All-Star Week!

We’re glad to have gotten the chance to check out another event by the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The last time we attended an event by the baseball team, Brenna won a competition. Read more here.

The Federal Reserve Visits Astyra

Renee Haltom, Tom Barkin, Ken Ampy and Becky Bareford

Astyra had the honor of being visited by executives from the Federal Reserve Bank!

Federal Reserve Bank CEO Tom Barkin was accompanied by COO Becky Bareford and Regional Executive Renee Haltom. The topics of conversation were the statewide job market, trends in the staffing industry, and the effects of the changing economy on midsize businesses.