8 Things I Learned as a Summer Intern

Greater Cleveland Partnership’s very own summer marketing intern Grace Libava provides an inside scoop on what it’s like working at GCP. Hear from an intern’s perspective the eight tips she believes are crucial to making the most out of an internship experience.

Internships—the stepping stone between college and your career. If your college or university does not require at least one internship to graduate, they strongly suggest it. Although the searching and applying process can be stressful, it is worth it. I had a hard road of rejections, companies who did not even bother to give me any answer, and companies who wanted to offer me an internship, but I did not feel that it was a good fit for me.

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    Then, I found this internship when I was least expecting it. And it turned out to be an amazing experience. Over these 10 weeks, I put together a list of tips to help you make the most of your internship:

    Pre-Check

    Internship Tip No. 1: Stay organized. Keep lists and deadlines. What helped me the most was keeping a list of all my projects or tasks for the week, and either putting them in order based on importance, or based on due date. This helped me to make sure I was not forgetting anything and keeping myself accountable.

    Internship Tip No. 2: Meet as many people as you can. Go to events, hang out with the other interns and get to know people at the company. It will take you a little bit of time to warm up to everyone, but it gets easier every day.

    Internship Tip No. 3: Keep busy (but not too busy). Remember that this is a learning experience and you want to get as much out of it as you can. Explore other departments besides the one you are in and explore the surrounding areas. You will be surprised by how much you learn.

    Internship Tip No. 4: Keep track of your projects and experiences. Save and archive the meaningful projects you complete; you never know when you will need them for future reference.

    Internship Tip No. 5: Watch, learn and take notes. You will be overwhelmed with the amount of information you learn. Take a deep breath, take notes and let it all sink in.

    Internship Tip No. 6: Ask for help and advice. Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you have an amazing boss like I did, you will feel totally comfortable doing so. It will help you in the long run because they know a lot more than you do.

    Internship Tip No. 7: Set goals. Like step 1, this also helps you to keep yourself accountable. Setting goals and accomplishing them is a great feeling.

    Internship Tip No. 8: Lastly—have fun! Depending on the culture of the company, this may be easier in some places rather than others. However, there are always opportunities to be yourself while also staying professional. Make the most out of each day.

    My advice is to have faith in the process and have faith in yourself. You will end up at the place that is meant for you. My 10 weeks at the Greater Cleveland Partnership flew by. I learned so much, was able to learn about so many different aspects of the company and received a lot of helpful advice and feedback. Make the most of each day, because at the end of it all, you will wish it hadn’t gone by so fast.


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    Next up: 9 Things You Should Include in an Offer Letter to a Potential Employee
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  • 9 Things You Should Include in an Offer Letter to a Potential Employee

    In track and field, how well the runner launches her body off the starting block determines her starting position in the race, and largely contributes to her overall success. Think of offer letters the same way. A solid offer letter can mark the beginning of a successful start to an employment relationship, and put a new employee in a good position to positively contribute to the growth and success of your company.

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    A successful offer letter should include these nine elements.

    1. Excitement

    Pre-Check

    You’ve gone through the trouble of advertising a position, looking over resumes and interviewing potential candidates, so you should be excited that you can now make an offer. Convey your excitement to the candidate so that he or she feels excited about working with you, and you can close the deal!

    2. Basic job info

    Include the title of the position, as well as reporting structure. The offer letter should also include a description of responsibilities and expectations. In this section, you should also include a disclaimer that the employer has the right to change the position, and modify or assign additional responsibilities.

    3. Compensation and benefits

    The job’s salary, payment period, and the policy on raises should be included. Thoroughly describe any bonus or commission plan. Where applicable, information about fringe benefits such as health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, 401(k) savings plans, profit sharing, and expense reimbursements should also be included. Don’t forget to include the company’s vacation and/or PTO policy, and reserve the right to amend or rescind compensation agreements and benefit plans and programs, including employee contribution levels.

    4. “At will”/ exempt status

    Most employment relationships are “at will”, meaning that either party can terminate the employment for any reason or no reason (so long as it does not violate discrimination or other laws or public policies). If this is the case, make sure it is clearly addressed in the offer letter by stating something like, “the employer is free to discharge individuals for any reason or no reason at all, without further obligation or liability.” Also, be sure to state whether the position is exempt. If the position is nonexempt, include your overtime policy.

    5. Conditions for the offer

    Describe any conditions that you want the employee to satisfy before or after being hired. Examples of such conditions include: reference checks, background checks, drug tests, and required pre-hire documentation.

    6. Restrictive Covenants

    While an offer letter will generally not include non-compete or non-solicitation clauses, it can condition employment upon the signing of these documents at commencement of employment. The best practice is to seek the help of a business lawyer when crafting non-compete or non-solicitation agreements. Moreover, you may want to include language in the offer letter stating that signing the document affirmatively acknowledges that the employee is not currently subject to any restrictive covenants from previous employers.

    7. Confidentiality

    If your company has a confidentiality policy (it should), offer letters should include confidentiality and/or non-disclosure clauses in order to protect important information that’s vital to the success of your business, such as salary information or client lists.

    8. Expiration Date

    The offer should instruct the candidate to obtain independent legal advice before accepting and provide enough time for the person to do so. This will make the court more likely to uphold clauses in favor of your company if a problem should arise in the future. While it is still important to give the candidate time to properly review your offer, it’s also imperative to include a specific time in which your offer to that candidate expires. Making an expiration date around 48 hours after extending an offer also helps eliminate the chance of the candidate receiving competing offers, having time to compare offers, and then possibly presenting you with a counter-offer.

    9. Spell Out the Next Steps

    Finally, explicitly call out the next steps for the candidate. These may include signing the offer letter and returning it to a specific person at the company. Also include a start date and the timing of any contingencies such as reference checks. It’s important to include these steps so that the employment relationship begins on strong footing, launching your new employee and your business as a whole towards success and prosperity.

    For more information on this topic, contact Alex Gertsburg at 440-571-7775 or ag@gertsburglaw.com. Get more legal tips for your business on The Gertsburg Law Firm blog, with new articles every week. 

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    Next up: 9 Ways to Improve Your Staff’s Mood—And Your Business’ Bottom Line: Presented by viperks
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  • 9 Ways to Improve Your Staff’s Mood—And Your Business’ Bottom Line: Presented by viperks

    Allowing your employees to show off their creative side and giving them access to discount programs are two ways to improve morale in the office. Here are seven more from the motivation experts at viperks.

    Happy employees are productive employees. But a recent study by Gallup has found that as many as 70% of American workers are unengaged in the office—and therefore not as happy or productive as they otherwise could be.

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    Clearly, there’s a lot of ground to make up here. But how to do it? The motivation experts at viperks, a cloud-based provider of employee discount and appreciation services, has a few ideas about the employment perks you can provide that will help engage and motivate your workforce. 

    Pre-Check

    1. Customized workspaces

    Allow your employees to decorate their workspaces with little custom touches that show off their unique personalities. It’s been shown that adding this perk leads to 17% more productivity by employees.

    2. Employee-friendly maternity leave

    Ensure you’re providing ample time for maternity (and paternity) leave. This will help your employees feel more cared for at work.

    3. Provide concierge services

    Work out partnerships that can provide added services to your employees, such as a maid service for your employees’ homes, elder care facilities for aging family members, or services that assist with everyday errands.

    4. Vacation time

    Provide a once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience for your top performers or perhaps raffle off a dream vacation.

    5. Feed ‘em

    Maybe the way to your employees’ hearts is through their stomachs? Keep a supply of free food and drink in the office for your staff.

    6. Employee discount programs

    Programs exist that will allow your employees to purchase everyday brand name items at a discount.

    RELATED: Learn how COSE members can take advantage of such discount programs

    7. Student loan repayment plan

    Student loan repayment might be one of the biggest expenses your employees are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Consider setting up a repayment program to assist with this expense.

    8. Go casual

    Make everyday Casual Friday by instituting a relaxed dress code.

    9. Time to relax

    Create a designated space in your office for quiet reflection and relaxation that will help your employees recharge their batteries.

    Learn more about how viperks can help COSE member businesses motivate and engage their employees.

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    Next up: A 5 Step Plan to Implementing Safety Inspections
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  • A 5 Step Plan to Implementing Safety Inspections

    Ensuring a safe workplace should be the goal of every business. Performing regular inspections of both the workplace environment and the business’ equipment is crucial in creating a workplace that is a safe place for employees. So how do you go about performing a worksite analysis that will address all of the potential danger areas of which you should be aware? Here’s a five-point plan courtesy of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration that will get you started in the right direction:

    Ensuring a safe workplace should be the goal of every business. Performing regular inspections of both the workplace environment and the business’ equipment is crucial in creating a workplace that is a safe place for employees.

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    So how do you go about performing a worksite analysis that will address all of the potential danger areas of which you should be aware? Here’s a five-point plan courtesy of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration that will get you started in the right direction:

    1. Request consultation

    Pre-Check

    It’s never a bad idea to get input from the experts. OSHA offers a Consultation Program that provides comprehensive coverage of all of the dangers that might lurk at your business. Small business owners might also consider hiring an expert private consultant, too.

    2. Employee reviews

    From time to time, review with each employee their jobs. Break their duties down step by step to see what invisible hazards might exist in their normal day to day.

    3. Self-inspections

    In addition to consulting with outside sources, take time to self-inspect. Some things to keep in mind during these self-inspections include:

    • Ensuring fire safety standards are being met (i.e., fire alarm system is tested annually, there are enough fire extinguishers and they are readily available, etc.)
    • Are employees wearing safety equipment, such as goggles or shields, where appropriate?
    • Aisles and walkways are clear of obstructions
    • Floor openings are protected on all sides by covers, guard rails, etc.
    • Worn equipment and tools are being replaced as needed

    4. Analyze

    Look through the past several years’ worth of injury reports. Do you see a pattern emerging? That might indicate red flags that need to be addressed.

    5. Self-policing

    It’s one thing to set up formal workplace safety procedures. It’s another to follow through and ensure they are being carried out effectively. Small businesses must ensure all employees are aware of the business’ workplace safety policy and the ramifications of not adhering to it. It’s also important that your staff feels comfortable telling management when they see something that violates the company’s safety protocol.

    Of course, the tips listed above just represent a starting point when it comes to workplace safety. For a more detailed look at what you can do to make sure your business is as safe as possible, check out OSHA’s Small Business Handbook, located here

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    Next up: A Millennial and Baby Boomer Talk Out their Differences
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  • A Millennial and Baby Boomer Talk Out their Differences

    In my work here at the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE, I am lucky to interact with many of our Northeast Ohio businesses each day. In doing so, there’s a common thread in the interactions had between Baby Boomers and their Millennial employees. While the following conversation is not one heard first-hand, it’s my best guess as to how a Baby Boomer and a Millennial employee would discuss the workplace dynamics between the two generations.

    In my work here at the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE, I am lucky to interact with many of our Northeast Ohio businesses each day. In doing so, there’s a common thread in the interactions had between Baby Boomers and their Millennial employees. While the following conversation is not one heard first-hand, it’s my best guess as to how a Baby Boomer and a Millennial employee would discuss the workplace dynamics between the two generations.

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    Baby Boomer Business Owner: Help! Millennials are taking over my office! They’re Snapchatting everywhere! What do I do?

    Millennial: First off, calm down.  Close out of Facebook and let’s talk. Yes, we Millennials are heavy users of social media but did you know a lot of us use it to develop business for OUR company. Do you know how many of our clients and prospects are on Twitter, Facebook, and yes, even Snapchat?

    Pre-Check

    Baby Boomer:   OK, OK.  But my problem with your generation extends beyond just social channels–I mean, look at what you’re wearing! You’re wearing jeans, boots, the sleeves of your shirt are rolled up.  I’ve dressed the same—PROFESSIONALLY—every day at this job for the past 35 years!

    Millennial: Again, calm down. I just got back from an appointment with one of our many manufacturing clients. If I walk into their facility in a suit and tie to take a tour and meet with their floor workers, I’d be laughed out of there. And tomorrow, I’ll be meeting with a law firm downtown and will be wearing a suit. See, the thing about us Millennials is we’re flexible and have no trouble adapting to any given situation and …  Wait … Did you say you’ve been working here for the past 35 years?

    Baby Boomer:  Yep! Do you not see yourself working here for the next 20 or 30 years?

    Millennial: Honestly, I don’t know where I’ll be in five years, let alone 20. Can we talk about ways I can grow and develop into a leadership role that allows me to be here until I’m 60 years old?

    Baby Boomer:  See, that’s another thing with you Millennials. You want the leadership role, but you’re not willing to put in the hard work needed to get there.  Are you all really that entitled and lazy?

    Millennial: Would you prefer I come in everyday without any ambition or drive?  Just guessing here but that might be why so many of my Millennial colleagues both here at OUR company and others are so disengaged. Disengagement is not laziness.

    Baby Boomer: So it’s an entitlement thing?  You all think you deserve a leadership position right away?

    Millennial:  Not at all. If we have lazy and entitled employees here, that’s a workplace culture problem–not a Millennial one. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in wanting to know how one can grow into a leadership position long-term at your company. Some would call that being proactive. You say I’m entitled; I say I’m hungry. I’m not demanding a promotion right now, but this is my career we’re talking about here. What I want to know is how I can earn the role I see myself in one day.

    Baby Boomer:  That’s fair. But how do we do that?

    Millennial: Can we find some time each week to sit down and chat?

    Baby Boomer: That’s the last thing I want, another Millennial gunning for my job and wanting to meet with me constantly so I can pat you on the back, hold your hand, and tell you you’re doing a great job. You know, not everyone should get a trophy!

    Millennial:  Hold on. Have you ever considered–as a Baby Boomer who has forgotten more about our industry than I might ever learn–that we Millennials might be that desperate for a mentor of some kind before you retire?

    If I’m lucky enough to be in your position one day, I’d be flattered if a younger employee wanted to pick my brain.  I can promise you it’s not a threat when I ask about your day-to-day work and seek your advice on things that pop up in mine. 

    Baby Boomer:  I guess I never thought about it like that. 

    Millennial:  I can guarantee you I do not speak for all Millennials with what we’re talking about today but it’s important to me that you know we’re not all alike and of one mindset. 

    Some of us are just as motivated, driven, inspired, and -- believe it or not – committed as you are now and were when you were our age.

    Business Owner:  Whew, well that makes me feel better. I’m glad we had this talk. 

    Millennial:  Me too, want to head to Happy Hour?

    Baby Boomer:  What’s that? (Just kidding!)

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    Next up: A New Option for Small Business Health Insurance
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  • A New Option for Small Business Health Insurance

    We are excited to announce the creation of a new option for small business owners to access health benefits for themselves, their employees and their families—The COSE Health and Wellness Trust—a self-insured, multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) designed for companies with up to 50 employees participating in health benefits. In anticipation of the next wave of transition required by the Affordable Care Act, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust gives small business owners another option to meet the health benefit needs of their companies.

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    We are excited to announce the creation of a new option for small business owners to access health benefits for themselves, their employees and their families—The COSE Health and Wellness Trust—a self-insured, multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) designed for companies with up to 50 employees participating in health benefits.

    Pre-Check

    In anticipation of the next wave of transition required by the Affordable Care Act, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust gives small business owners another option to meet the health benefit needs of their companies.

    This self-insurance option is a lot like the option that unions and large companies have in the market today. Similarly, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust leverages the combined size of many small employers working together and balances the risk across the pool of companies.

    Unlike community-rated ACA plans, the plans available through the COSE Health and Wellness Trust recognize the unique preferred health risk of most small businesses.  The plans that will be offered have far fewer restrictions on the benefit structures that are available under the ACA. Many of the plan structures reflect the kind of benefit options that were common to small businesses before the ACA and that exist in their current grandfathered and transitional plans. Those transitional plans must be ended by January 1, 2018.

    And for the smallest of businesses, the COSE Health and Wellness Trust provides an option for group coverage for small businesses with no employees. Today, new small business owners with no employees can only access insurance through the individual market. Only grandfathered plans and transitional plans (that are slated to go away by January 1, 2018) exist as additional options here. The COSE Health and Wellness Trust will be a new option with plans available to these small business owners without employees to provide coverage for themselves and their families.

    The COSE Health and Wellness Trust will be an additional renewal option available to members of COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership with less than 50 eligible employees and we are currently providing quotes for coverage as soon as September 1st.  Getting a quote is easy for those enrolled in our insurance program. You can request rates for this option effective immediately. Those members not enrolled or small business owners that are not yet a member can also get a quote for coverage and then determine if the plans and membership make sense for them.

    A Little Background About How We Got Here…

    When the ACA became law in 2010 and was implemented in 2014, our focus was on finding the best option for each small business under the new law. For some of our members, ACA was the best option—either because the health status of their group benefited by the community rating feature of ACA or the subsidies available due to the income of the owner or their employees were of benefit.  For the vast majority of our members, however, the best option was to preserve the ability to stay on their current plan—either by allowing them to elect “grandfathered” status or enrolling them in a transitional or “grandmothered” plan to delay their move to ACA.

    Now, the next wave of ACA changes will require that as of January 1, 2018, all small businesses that want group insurance and that are not “grandfathered” must be in an ACA compliant plan. The law requires that the “grandmothered” transitional fully insured plans will be eliminated. The only way to stay on an old plan is if you were on it before the law was enacted in 2010 and you’ve done everything required to establish and maintain “grandfathered” status.  While some of those plans will still fit, they limit the ability to make any significant benefit changes. The shift to ACA compliant plans is going to result in rates that are more expensive for most companies and, for many, rate increases of 30 percent to 70 percent are likely.  The COSE Health and Wellness Trust is an option to access coverage outside of the requirements of ACA.

    The Solution

    The COSE Health and Wellness Trust leverages more than 40 years of experience within COSE providing small business benefit solutions and our long term relationship with Medical Mutual. We have selected Medical Mutual to continue to work with us to support several of the underlying actuarial and insurance functions of the COSE Health and Wellness Trust.  Medical Mutual’s long-term commitment to the small business community as a local, Northeast Ohio company that is significantly invested in the small business market distinguishes them as a part of this solution. We also have engaged actuaries, legal advisers and a variety of other resources to help structure and guide the COSE Health and Wellness Trust to ensure it is a solid, viable, long-term resource for our members.

    We are pleased to announce that after more than a year of work on developing this plan and a rigorous review, the Ohio Department of Insurance awarded our Certificate of Authority earlier this week.

    We are confident that the COSE Health and Wellness Trust will be a great option for the vast majority of our members. The licensed COSE team at Medical Mutual and more than 200 specially trained brokers are able to talk with small business owners about the fit of this option with their needs.  As with other self-funded arrangements, there are some additional responsibilities involved in utilizing this plan, but based on the way we have structured it, we think they will be manageable and make sense for a broad set of small business owners.

    To learn more about the COSE Health and Wellness Trust and to find out if it is a good solution for your benefit needs, contact the COSE Sales and Service team at Medical Mutual at (440) 878-5930 or talk with your broker. 

    And, if you like the plan you are on now, know that COSE will continue to offer a range of fully insured plans side-by-side with the COSE Health and Wellness Trust through Medical Mutual and we will continue to make our members’ grandfathered plans available.

    We hope you’ll take the time to evaluate the fit of the COSE Health and Wellness Trust with your own needs.  As the ACA continues to evolve, we have continued to update what we can do to help you adapt to it.   In every area of your business, since 1972, our goal has been to be here to help you grow and succeed.  We hope that once you take a look at the plans available in the COSE Health and Wellness Trust, you’ll agree these options give you one more tool to achieve your success.


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