Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Prepping for the Internship Interview

          It’s Wednesday afternoon and you just got out from your History 101 class. Your stomach growls signaling lunch time and as you walk to Damen for a chicken sandwich you notice you have a missed call from a number you don’t recognize. Checking the voicemail you find out it’s the internship site you applied for 3 months ago and had completely forgotten about; amazingly, they were impressed by your resume and want to interview you! Now what?!

This happens all too often to the college student and now they have to scramble to prepare for the interview. Personally, I had this happen many times in the summer when I was most caught off guard. While everyone has different ways of preparation this is how I went and still prepare for interviews thanks to all the guidelines I learned from my academic internship class, UNIV 390 back in sophomore year.

1.       Do your Research and ask Yourself the Questions.

There has to be a reason you applied to the internship in the first place whether it’s your future career path or you want more experience.

·         Take a look around the company website and learn more about their past, current, and future programs or projects; how will you fit into these, if at all? Be prepared to discuss any current happenings affecting the organization you are interviewing for.

·         Read the organization’s bio and philosophy; is it an organization you would be proud to work for?

·         Ask others who had interned or worked for the organization on their thoughts; how was the workload? Is it easily accessible through a form of transportation? Will it be worthwhile for me as a student? Is the internship something feasible for me to do throughout the school year?

·         Read through team member bios if they are provided. There is a large possibility that one of these people will be interviewing you and gaining a little background on them will certainly be helpful!

2.       Collect Yourself.

Remember to breathe and approach this calmly. Even someone like me who’s had 3 internships still gets nervous when interviewing so be sure to:

·         Know your strengths. Employers will 90% of the time ask this question and to be confident in your answer, you should review your strengths, abilities, and experiences that make you a strong candidate for the internship.

·         Know your “areas of growth”: What skills or qualities do you hope to grow in? Perhaps you’re not completely confident in your writing abilities but you hope to gain more insight on how to become a better writer. Don’t sell yourself short!

·         Hit the big points. What are topics you want to stress in the interview? How can you “sell” yourself?

·         As mentioned in point 1 be able to answer the question: why did you apply for this internship? What are you seeking out of an internship, or specifically out of this internship?

3.       Study Your Resume.

Re-vamping your resume before the interview will be a great tool to have on hand if the interviewer forgets to provide their own copy. But make sure the resume you use matches the one sent to the organization.

·         Update all your information.  Any experiences or jobs relevant to the internship position you’re applying for should have been on your resume.

·         Have a professional or someone with solid job experience look it over! A second set of eyes is always great to have in case you missed any spelling or grammatical errors.

4.       Organize everything.

Having everything ready to go the morning of your interview will calm yourself down and make the whole process less stressful.

·         Make sure you have travel arrangements set. Whether you’re taking the train or driving yourself, be sure to allot extra time for unforeseeable circumstances and to have everything prepared.

·         Choose your outfit. (See future blog post for a detailed description)

·         Prepare all appropriate paperwork. 

5.       Practice!!

There are few people in the world that are able to enter an interview, “wing it,” and still get the internship so practice is vital.

·         Practice with someone who has job or internship experience. They’ve been through it before and can give some insight on how their interview experience went.

·         Watch yourself in front of a mirror. Be aware of facial expression and body language.

·         The Career Development Center has mock-interviews you can participate in. Be sure to use all available resources!


As a student with 3 internships under my belt, I can comfortably say that I would not have attained my past 2 without the training and resources I received from the Center for Experiential Learning and the Career Development Center.  Nor would I have known that my internship could count as for academic credit by taking a UNIV 390 or a Major appropriate course. Truly, a great two for one deal hosted by the CEL that more students should take advantage of!

Next time, I share my experiences so far at my current internship with the Center for Healthcare Innovation.  Stay tuned!




Kyra Racelis
            Peer Mentor – Academic Internships

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