Get That Internship! Wrap Up

Over the course of this spring semester, I covered steps in the internship search process. As a wrap-up to the series, here is the complete listing of “Get That Internship!” posts. Enjoy!

How to Find an Internship

How to Target Your Resume for Internship Applications

Internship Applications: What Do You Need?

How to Prepare for Internship Interviews

Ace Your Internship Interviews

Appropriate Interview Follow-Up

What to Do When You Receive an Internship Offer

Start Preparing for Your Summer Internship

Top Three Tips for Internship Success

I hope you found this internship advice useful, and I hope it helped you in completing a successful internship search. Best of luck in the next part of your internship journey!

Appropriate Interview Follow-Up

I teach Career Information in Arts & Communication (ACINDP 399) at UW-Whitewater. Last semester, I hosted an Employer Panel during the final week of class. During this Q&A session, one student asked the employers how many thank you notes they receive after interviews. Without hesitation, one employer said, “Not enough.”

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Good career advice always includes the importance of following up after interviews. Unfortunately, people either don’t follow up at all or follow up inappropriately. As you move through the internship interview process, keep the following post-interview tips in mind:

  • Send a thank you note immediately after every interview. There is no better way to follow up after an interview than the thank you note. While email is becoming more acceptable, nothing beats a nice hand-written note. However you choose to send your thank you, make sure you do so within 24 hours. During one of my hiring committee experiences, the last thank you card the committee received after the interviews was from the first person to interview. Not good. Here are five more post-interview thank you note mistakes to avoid.
  • Keep the timeline in mind when planning any direct follow up. If you are contemplating a phone call to follow up, make sure it isn’t too soon. How do you know when it is acceptable to call? From the interview itself. Ideally, your interviewer will let you know when to expect to hear back. If they don’t tell you, make this one of your questions at the end of the interview. If they tell you to expect to hear something NEXT Friday, don’t call them anytime before that date. If you haven’t heard anything by that time, then you can contact them. I recently heard that a good expectation is to hear back from an employer within a week to 10 days. So if you didn’t get timeline information during your interview, use this as a guideline.
  • Don’t be a pest. There is a fine line between appropriate interview follow-up and being an annoyance. Send your thank you note. Contact them if you don’t hear back within the stated timeline. Then just chill out. While it can be frustrating to not hear back or to wait, it’s just a reality of the hiring process. If you keep calling and emailing and LinkedIn messaging and… You will drive the employer nuts and drive yourself right out of contention.

Anxiety during the post-interview waiting process is to be expected. Follow up appropriately and keep your peace of mind knowing you did the “right” thing. Relax and hope for good news!

Ace Your Internship Interviews

Interview success starts with your pre-interview preparations, but how you perform during the interview is obviously important, too. Interviews can be nerve-wracking even when you are well prepared.

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Make a great impression during your internship interviews by keeping the following points in mind:

  • Don’t make a major interview boo-boo. According to CareerBuilder, six of the most common interview mistakes are:
    • Answering a Phone Call – Don’t even take your phone with you into your interview. Leave it in the car.
    • Wearing the Wrong Attire – Please, nothing short, tight, or leopard print. Yes, I’ve seen it done.
    • Appearing Disinterested – If you don’t even look like you want to be at the interview, why would your interviewer think you want to come to work?
    • Appearing Arrogant – There is a fine line between promoting the skills you bring to an organization and having a big head.
    • Dissing Your Previous Job – If you say bad things about your previous employer, your interviewer knows what you’re going to do to them if they upset you on the job.
    • Talking While Chewing Gum – Why would you be chewing gum at an interview?!
  • Be nice to EVERYONE. From the minute you step onto the premises, you are being evaluated. The way you treat everyone from the custodian in the hallway to your interviewer is being watched. How you treat people says a lot about you. Make sure it says good things.
  • Present yourself with confidence. Shake hands confidently. Smile. Maintain good posture. Nonverbal communication can often speak louder than actual words, so be aware of how you carry yourself.
  • Don’t talk too much, but really answer the questions. Most interview questions can’t easily be answered with “yes” or “no,” but it doesn’t stop some people. Other people take it to opposite extreme and talk WAY too much. I once sat in on an interview where the interviewee took about 15 minutes to answer a question. Yes, my fellow interviewers and I were all watching the clock. It is important to provide details in your answers to interviewer’s questions, but keep your responses concise.
  • Remember to ask questions. The last question you will probably be asked in the interview is “Do you have questions for us?” The answer is yes, you do have questions. Have a few questions ready to go before the interview. A good question to add to your list is asking about the decision timeline. This helps you determine when it is appropriate to follow up with the organization.

As for how to answer the most common interview questions, check out this great infographic: Most Asked Interview Questions and How to Answer Them.

You can find additional interviewing advice on my Pinterest board, Interview Tips & Tricks.

QUESTION: Have you ever made a major interview boo-boo?

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How to Prepare for Internship Interviews

So, where are you in the process of applying for a summer internship? Here on the UW-Whitewater Internship Blog, we have:

Next up are interviews!

Prepare for Internship Interview

When you think about interviews, I would like you to think of them in three parts:

  1. Before the Interview
  2. The Interview Itself
  3. After the Interview

Here are three things to accomplish BEFORE your internship interviews:

  • Do Your Homework: Yes, I just told you to do homework for your interview. Don’t worry, though. It’s not too difficult. First, learn as much as possible about the organization you are interviewing with. Spend time on their website, take notes, and come away with a good understanding of what the organization does and what they stand for. Second, learn a little bit about your interviewer and/or your potential supervisor. Don’t stalk people, but take a look at their LinkedIn profiles so you have a sense of what they do with the organization and what their background is. Finally, spend some quality time thinking about who you are. What are your strengths? What relevant skills do you possess? What stories can you tell to describe ways you have worked in a team, showed leadership skills, handled conflict, etc.?
  • Understand What Constitutes “Appropriate” Interview Attire: Nice clothes aren’t always the same as appropriate interview clothes. You might have a skirt that is great for going to dinner with friends, but it’s too short for an interview. You might have a cartoon tie that is fun for holidays, but it’s not a good look in the office. Get started by browsing two of my Pinterest boards: What to Wear – Women and What to Wear – Men.
  • PRACTICE: Interviewing is a skill, one that we don’t practice very often. If you have never interviewed for a job before, if it has been awhile since your last interview, if you’re nervous, or if you just want to make sure you are as prepared as you possibly can be, set up a mock interview with a career advisor. We will ask you common interview questions and give you feedback. Then, keep practicing after the mock interview to incorporate the feedback into your responses. Whatever you do, don’t let THE interview be your practice interview.

Preparing for your interview will help you make a good first impression with the employer. You’ll be ready to answer tough interview questions. And you’ll look great.

Question: What is the scariest thing about an interview?

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Getting a Virtual Internship

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In her second post, Alysondra Milano shares her tips for finding and securing a virtual internship. Alysondra is currently “virtually” interning with Time at the Table, a nonprofit organization working to promote the reconnection of families around the dinner table. If you missed “meeting” Alysondra, read her introduction post.

In my last post, I went through what virtual internships are and what they can offer you. Let’s go through how to actually get the internship.

Start by searching on websites like you would for any other internship. Some of my favorite places to look include Hawk Jobs and CyberInterns.com. Companies post their internships on these sites and will indicate if they are virtual. Send in your resume but make sure that it is error free since you are applying for a position that will require you to be able to communicate well through writing.

It always helps to connect with something that you like to do. If you are doing work for a cause or brand that you really believe in, it will make it a lot easier to schedule in time to complete your work for them. This is also another great way to find an internship. If you work with a nonprofit or know of a small local company that is having a hard time doing something that you could do from home, offer your services to them.

For example, my [current] internship is in social media. I approached a nonprofit recently about allowing me to do their social media for them. I told them about my experience with Time at the Table (the virtual internship that I have now) and explained how my work there could be applied to their cause. Just ask if you can do the work for free in exchange for college credit and a way to build your resume. The process to get credit is not very hard and takes just a few forms, the consent of an instructor and the consent of the person who will oversee you as an intern.

Also, write, write, write! Since you will not necessarily have a formal interview, most companies ask you to provide them with a writing sample. A great way to have some writing samples on hand is to start blogging. This will keep your writing skills sharp, and blogging may be one thing that the company will expect that you will already be able to do.

Please do your homework as well! When you send your resume, tailor it to the company that you are sending it to. These things may matter even more when they are basing who they will hire off of what they see from your online correspondence. This also shows your attention (or lack thereof) to detail. The company may set up an interview with you (and other candidates) online via Skype. If you know many different platforms, come with ideas tailored to their brand, and know their key messages and values, you will stand out among the competition.

Remember that since you are applying for a position where a brick and mortar presence is not required, that opens the field up to applicants from all over the world – applicants that will be our competition. You would not believe how many people do not follow through on the research portion. I was told after I secured my virtual internship that I was one of only two candidates who applied that took it upon themselves to research the organization and what they stood for. That can make a huge difference and secure you a position over someone who may have more experience, but doesn’t have the follow through that you were able to show!

As long as you show your desire, what services you can provide, and go above and beyond the other candidates, securing that internship will be just the beginning!

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