Identifying Workplace Environment

Let’s set the scene: you walk into your second week and you already feel out of place. Sure, the work you’re doing is perfect resume-building material and your organization has a positive reputation. Your friends and family couldn’t be more proud. Yet, you’re feeling disconnected and there’s just no clear reason why.

So what’s causing your distress? It may be the one component students often forget to consider when taking on their first internship–workplace environment.

Workplace environment can be defined as the different environmental and social components of your organization that contribute to your work experience as a whole. It’s the sum of all the little things you may or may not be aware of that are working together to affect how you enjoy your internship. These components, like how you interact with your boss or how your physical workspace is set up, can be hard to determine before accepting the position.

While some internships provide more realistic responsibilities than others, you can begin to take note of the aspects that contribute to your organization’s environment (as well as your own preferences for your future places of work) even as you enter your first internship.

Some components to start considering regarding workplace environment:

Who’s in charge?
  • Who do you report to (who is your supervisor)? What is the hierarchy of management within your organization?
  • Is it a smaller company where your supervisor is also head of the organization?
  • How easily accessible is your supervisor?
  • How are you treated during meetings with other employees?
  • Do co-workers not only respect but appreciate and value your input?
  • How often do you get the chance to state your opinion on important issues?
  • How many people work at the organization as a whole? Are there less than 20? More than 100?
  • How do you interact with the leaders/founders of the company? Do you get any chance to?
  • Do you complete your work individually? With one other person? On a team?
  • How do employees interact with each other? Are they friendly?
  • How do members of your office feel about the leadership at your organization? Are they positive or negative?
  • What matters do they discuss in the office? Are the topics they discuss generally professional or personal?
Physical Environment
  • What does your workspace look like? Do you get your own? Do you share with others?
  • What does the space for the organization as a whole look like? Does it have an open feel, encouraging collaborative work? Are there cubicles for individual employees, encouraging individual work?
  • Where are you located in relation to your supervisor? Is their workspace near yours?


While it may take some time working in an organization to identify the answers to these questions, the answers you find will prove vital. As you apply for more work opportunities, you’ll be better able to understand the kind of organization in which you’ll thrive. Keep looking for how your environment contributes to your experience as an intern and you may be surprised by what you find. What kind of work environments have you been a part of?

Welcome to Handshake!

The 2017 job market is different than any before it. With the rise of technology and innovation as both a help and hindrance to the process, young adults beginning their own internship or job search have access to incredible tools that they may not even know about. You may have just checked Facebook or Snapchat, but do you have a LinkedIn? Or have you heard of Glassdoor?

Meet Handshake, the Career Development Center’s new online career platform. It’s a place where students, career centers, and recruiters come to meet and share jobs, internships, events and more. Started by Michigan Tech graduates, the platform is now utilized by University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Cornerstone University, Calvin College, and now Hope College. It’s a modern interface to interact with and find what you’re looking for in an internship or job.



When you log onto Handshake, it prompts you to fill out your profile and asks you a few questions such as locations you’re interested in working in, desired fields of work, and more. One of my favorite features when filling out the profile is the option Handshake gives you to upload your resume. It looks at your resume and uses its technology to scan your relevant work, and upload each experience to your profile (after your approval, in case there’s something outdated). It saves you the copy-pasting time and builds the bulk of your profile in the blink of an eye.



Searching through job postings is just like searching through any of your favorite online vendors: there are filters to narrow down the location, job type, part-time or full-time, and so on. Once you find a posting that interests you, you can “favorite” it and not only will it be easy to find later, but Handshake will also send you email notifications before relevant deadlines so you won’t miss anything important. Employers from around the state, country and world work with Handshake to place their postings on the site, giving Hope students access to more opportunities including high-level positions posted by Fortune 500 companies.

I’ve always been a future-focused person. When I was 15, the summer after my freshman year of high school, I started googling colleges and universities in my free time. It only makes sense that now, as a rising college junior, I have already scoured future job prospects on various job search sites and check LinkedIn almost as regularly as Instagram (almost).

Since signing on, I have found Handshake to be a breath of fresh air. Now that Jobstop is gone, opportunities around campus, in Holland, and across the world are brought together in one place, proving useful for freshmen and recent graduates alike. It is an exceptionally comprehensive resource and will grow along with Hope College students even as the job market continues to evolve.