Many students spend their high school years building their resumes to get into good colleges. The resume-building doesn’t stop there: It intensifies during the college years as the real world gets closer. College kids busy themselves looking for jobs and the perfect extracurriculars, as well as the holy grail– internships. College students are always on the hunt for cool, fun, fascinating and rewarding internships to beef up those resumes.
As someone with very little experience attaining internships, I turned to my friend Mary Stygles–junior at Boston College and intern-extraordinaire–for advice on how to go about landing that dream internship.
Be ready to pounce
Practice speaking and answering possible questions before you go into the interview and have your elevator speech ready for when they inevitably ask you to speak about yourself. This will give you the confidence to speak like the educated human you are, which is an invaluable interview skill.
Be the Ball
Come to the interview with at least two good questions to ask. “It’s really bad if you have no questions for them,” said Stygles. Not only does it show a lack of interest in the internship but it demonstrates that you’re missing an intellectual curiosity that essentially every employer values. Stygles recommends not asking derivative questions, but questions about the company–aspects of their mission that intrigue you or areas in which the company may expand.
For instance, a question like, “How is the company responding to the shifting demographics in the region and how does it anticipate demand of its services will change?” shows that you know current problems the company may be dealing with and that you want to know how the company will continue to grow despite challenges.
Body Language, Baby
Eye contact and a firm handshake are also extremely important in expressing your confidence and genuine self in an interview. “Much of an interview has little to do with what is said and more to do with how you feel about the person in front of you,” Stygles said. Try to be loose and genuine in an interview, even if you’re naturally introverted or extremely nervous. If you feel good about yourself, the interviewer will too.
Love Something, Just Not Yourself
Avoid sounding arrogant. “Frame your skills and abilities as subversive to your passion and enthusiasm,” said Stygles. In other words, when the interviewer asks you bluntly about what makes you so special or what sorts of abilities you possess that differentiate you as a candidate, use your genuine enthusiasm as a vehicle to talk about your abilities. For example, if your greatest skill is your writing abilities, talk about how you love writing. If it’s quantum mechanics, bring up quantum mechanics. (Though how anyone could love quantum mechanics, I will never understand.) If you have real interest in the internship, that should shine through here.
Know Yourself, Know Your Worth
When asked about your greatest weakness in an internship interview, definitely don’t say that you have none. This not only makes you sound like Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory” but creates an awkward situation in which both the interviewer and you know that you’re lying. Be prepared to talk about a weakness, but make sure it’s not an unchangeable flaw in your character. It should be something you can improve upon and Stygles suggests tossing out some ideas for how you plan to do just that.
As we enter the “real” world and pursue internships and careers and bill-paying and all that other adult stuff, we’ll be asked about ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses and our passions so many times we may be brought to the brink of an existential crisis. So we better prepare ourselves as best we can to come across as genuine and coolly confident while avoiding the trap of sounding like a pretentious snob.