Surviving interviews for internships

It’s that time of year again — endless internship applications and interviews. At UC Berkeley, we are fairly confident that we are well prepared to handle anything internships throw our way. Hey, we’re well rounded. We’re educated college students. We participate in extracurriculars. We have cover letters. We have resumes. While we are obviously killing it on paper, now we just need to charm the pants off human resources in the interview. So as we search for the perfect internship this summer, here are some ways we can nail the interview so we land the position over a Stanfurd student.

 

1. Get the facts. 

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The more you know about the company, the better. If they have received any awards lately or achieved some sort of accomplishment you can mention, congratulate them. If they’ve just rebranded, know something about that. Essentially, just have some basic knowledge of the purpose of the company, because it is hard to get a job when you really know nothing about it.

2. Do not lie on your resume. 

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There is a difference between “fluffing” and blatantly lying. Instead of saying that you got everyone their coffee and filed paperwork at a desk at your last internship, maybe say “I was an integral part of the daily office responsibilities, assisting my coworkers with managerial work, while also gaining first-hand experience with blah blah blah.” Do not fabricate job titles or skills, because you will later regret it when it comes back to haunt you.

3. Prep for common questions. 

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Don’t be afraid to put some flare into your answers. Is your weakness really that you work too hard on projects? Because where we come from, that is not called a weakness. Your response should not be disingenuous or methodical. And we are in the greatest position ever for this absurdly stupid question! We are interns! We shouldn’t know everything about this position or be over-qualified. We are here to learn, so stress that. We are here to shadow the professionals (it’s O.K. to blow smoke up their asses — see #6).

4. Dress appropriately.

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We thought we should include this no-brainer here just in case you were ever told that it’s acceptable to show up in crop tops, baggy jeans or sandals on the first day. Or any other day, for that matter. Dress to impress.

5. Be confident. 

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That winning smile, firm handshake and go-getter attitude will go a long way. Do not use “uhm” or “like” to fill conversational space. If you need time to think about a question, don’t worry about sitting there in silence. It is better to respond with a poised answer that takes a few moments of contemplation, rather than rambling, which convolutes the point you are making.

6. Kiss ass.

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Might as well start getting used to it. Create that fake laugh for every joke your interviewer makes that is not funny, then, like everyone else in the world, wait to get home after a long day and talk shit about your employer and coworkers. It’s a badge of honor when joining the work force to routinely hate everyone around you from 9-5 p.m.

7. Take notes and have questions for them. 

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What do you do with your hands? Take notes. Sometimes we are focusing too heavily on what we are going to say next, that we aren’t registering or remembering everything that is being said. When they ask if you have any questions for them, actually have questions. What would a normal day look like for an intern? Are there any perks to the internship program, such as lectures or informational meetings?

8. Name drop. 

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Feeling a little desperate? Name drop someone in the company. Just make sure that if the person is asked about you, they actually like you. We would say your ex-girlfriend’s extremely overprotective father is not a good character reference, if he works there.

9. Follow up with a thank you email. 

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Address them personally, reference things specifically mentioned in the interview (from your notes) and thank them for taking the time to speak with you about the position. And pray you do not get the dreadful “We will keep your resume on file” bullshit.

10. Use LinkedIn. 

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LinkedIn is just another source that allows for you to connect with potential employers and put your resume on blast. So use all the resources you have easily available to you. And it makes you feel like a professional.

 

Most importantly, go to as many interviews as possible, even if you are not sure about the company. Apply often. The more you do, the more comfortable and confident you will be when it truly counts.

 

Image Sources: Samuel Mann, makeameme.org, gifmaker.me, memegenerator.net, mememaker.net, theofficeisms.com.

Contact Lauren Trambley at [email protected].