Media Credit: Colin Lenton
A sharply dressed Temple Law student checks himself out in the mirror as he buttons his suit jacket. His “business professional” style of dress would be well-suited for most job interviews. He’ll remember to turn off his cell phone when in a potential employer’s office.
Butterflies are having a wild party in your stomach and your foot is incessantly tapping the floor, irritating everyone around you. Just relax, take a few deep breaths and throw out the wad of gum you’re chomping on. Congratulations, you’ve applied for an internship, and have succeeded in acquiring an interview. Now comes the tough part – going through the actual internship interview process.
Getting a job is often a grueling process that can involve multiple interviews, waiting anxiously by the phone and weeks of wondering if you said the “right” things. An interview for an internship is no different. But any former intern will tell you that having experience is the best way to inch your way into a job you may really want to have someday. So jump on the internship wagon, and get on the career highway.
If you’ve been summoned for an internship interview, you obviously possess great skills and knowledge that you’ve gained through your years at Temple. Employers do not just pick any person strolling on Cecil B. Moore Avenue – they look for dedicated, intelligent students who are willing to work hard to learn more about their chosen career path. There are many things you can do to prepare for an internship interview (or any job interview for that matter). Preparation and practice are the keys to a successful interview. The adage “practice makes perfect” is what you need to remember before the big day.
Many people become overwhelmed by job interviews. They can be stressful and intense – similar to making a speech. When you have to make a presentation, you shouldn’t improvise what you say, nor should you pretend to know what you’re talking about when you don’t have the slightest clue. You have to practice the speech and research the topic. It’s the same idea with job interviews. You need to present yourself and your talents in an organized, professional manner.
Every interview is different. Some interviewers are evil and like to see their subjects squirm by asking them tough questions. Other interviews might be a breeze-the employer might be a more laid-back individual. Junior Janae Cannon, a communications major, interned over the summer at Cintas Corporation, a Uniform Supply Company in Chicago. Cannon said her internship interview was pretty informal. “The actual [interview] process was kind of weird,” Cannon said. I had three interviews for the same job. They were really nice people; it was straightforward.” Cannon also wanted to make sure she was well-prepared. “I didn’t want to seem nervous. I tried to eat a good breakfast and get a good night’s sleep,” she said.
Temple offers excellent advice and counseling on internship interviews. At the Career Development Services on the second floor in Mitten Hall, any student who wishes to hone his or her interviewing skills can sign up for different workshops. “Students can always come and utilize our resources,” said John Arentzen, experiential learning coordinator at Career Development Services. To ensure that you are prepared, Arentzen explained that students need to use all the available resources that Temple provides.
In one of the workshops, a student can have a “mock” interview. Any student can bring a resume and blank VHS tape and go through a realistic interview while being videotaped. “Videotapes are very revealing,” Arentzen said. By viewing yourself being interviewed on tape, you can not only recognize your faults, but you can also find your strengths. For instance, some people might realize they were chewing on the interviewer’s pen during an interview (bad) or find that they presented themselves as confident, capable individuals (good).
Attire can also greatly influence an interviewer. If you walk into an interview wearing a tattered Eagles jersey with blood stains all over it, it’s pretty certain you won’t get the job.
When it comes to your interview get-up, “the rule is to go conservative,” Arentzen said. For men, a navy blue suit is appropriate, while women should wear a dress suit or a pantsuit.
Make sure you know who you’ll be interning for-research the company and ask questions. Yes, you can ask questions in an interview. In fact, many employers like to see inquisitive applicants-it shows that you are interested in them. Just don’t ask, “So how much are you guys gonna pay me?”
Let an interviewer know about your special skills and talents, even if you think they won’t apply to the internship. If you have worked with different software but you’re not sure how much you’ll be using computers, those skills could still help get you the job. “A lot of people don’t know how to sell themselves,” Arentzen said. “Students have a lot more to offer than they think.”
Don’t forget the basics before going into an interview. A firm handshake, eye contact, enthusiasm and even small talk can make a first impression a good and memorable one.
After the interview, Arentzen said it is very important to send a thank-you letter. Sometimes it’s the little things you do or say that get you the job.
If you’re interested in applying for an internship or job, a Career Fair is being held Oct. 27 at the Liacouras Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring resumes and sport your fanciest footwear-it’s a pretty formal event.
For more information on how to survive a job or internship interview, visit www.placementmanual.com and click on “interviewing.”
The Web site is also useful for finding a job or writing your resume. Or you can visit the Career Development Services on the second floor of Mitten Hall, 1913 N. Broad St. Its Web site is www.temple.edu/careerdev.
Ellen Minsavage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.