Chronicles of a Naz Intern: Chase Ferren
Column 1: March 20, 2015
My first interview for an internship was absolutely terrifying. I suppose it’s terrifying for everyone, though, even for the interviewers. I found the company that I would eventually end up interning for on Nazareth’s Hire a Flyer website (it’s a really fantastic resource for us students and it’s super easy to use; I highly recommend checking it out). After weeding through the internships that either didn’t interest me, or the ones I wasn’t fully qualified for, I applied for Next Step Academy’s communications internship (along with a few other positions). I sent in my resume and cover letter in December, hoping to be hired for an internship for the spring semester. I heard by from someone less than 24 hours later. Someone wanted to interview me! That was exciting in and of itself. Being considered for a position, even if I wasn’t actually hired, was pretty satisfying.
I went in for the interview that same week with sweaty palms and an outfit that didn’t really feel like me. Let me tell you—when you’re going in for an interview, wear something that feels right. I wore something that’s completely not my style and that definitely didn’t help with the pre-interview jitters. I was fidgeting with pantyhose the whole car ride to the office and praying I wouldn’t fall on my face from the high heels I wore. I got to the interview thirty minutes early. Thirty. Sure, being ten minutes early is always a solid idea; it shows you’re punctual, considerate, and excited about the interview. But being thirty minutes early makes you look like you’re trying too hard (which I suppose I was), or like you just can’t tell time. So I walked into the office thirty minutes before my scheduled interview and ended up accidentally interrupting everyone’s lunch hour. That was a little embarrassing, but I suppose it was better than being late.
I was hired for the internship position. They picked me over two other candidates, and I pay a lot of tribute to the interview. For those of you in the process of looking for internships, here are some pointers for your interview:
1. Wear something that feels like you, but still looks professional. Make sure you look like a real grown-up, but not stuffy.
2. Arrive at least ten minutes early, but no more than fifteen.
3. Bring another copy of your resume with you, just in case.
4. Shake people’s hands firmly, and call them “Mr.” and “Ms.” (it shows respect). Let me tell you something else, something that you’ve probably heard a lot lately. Networking is your best friend, and your most powerful weapon. Get a LinkedIn profile and network with everyone you know. Make sure to network with your professors, too. They can attest to your work ethic and capabilities better than anyone. Plus, chances are, the place you intern at has had Naz interns before, and they know a professor or two. It’s a small world, folks.
After you’ve nailed your interview, which I know you will, don’t fool yourself into thinking that means the interview is over. As soon as you get back to your room, handwrite a thank you note to the person who interviewed you and mail it. No lazy emails. Sending a handwritten card in the mail shows you actually care about the position, and that you’re excited about being considered for it. Your interviewer took time out of their busy schedule to talk you, so you can take a few minutes out of yours to thank them for it. Then, if all goes according to plan and you hear that you’ve been chosen for the position, send another handwritten note thanking them for being selected. Just because you’ve already been hired, doesn’t mean you can’t keep going the extra mile to create a solid relationship with the people you’ll be working with. My supervisor put both the handwritten thank you notes that I mailed her on the bulletin board above her desk. Trust me; people don’t forget heartfelt, appreciative gestures like that.
Now it’s time for you to get started on your internship search. Even if an internship isn’t a requirement for your degree, completing an internship will give you a leg up on the competition, help you decide what you like and don’t like, and get you started with professional networking. Go on Hire a Flyer and look under the “internship” category, or research organizations in the area that interest you, and check out the “careers” section of their website (organizations often put internship openings in their “careers” section). Don’t be too picky about where you complete your internship; you won’t be working there for long. Don’t settle either, though; you’re trying to gain experience in a field that interests you. Your internship is the place where you’ll make your first professional connections, and if you do it right, you’ll keep those connections throughout your entire career.