Strategizing interviews for internships and co-ops causes the one headache that Cabrini’s upperclassmen dread most of all. Stress surrounds juniors and seniors, especially in the month of February, to prepare groundbreaking interviews that could help land them a position for their desired co-op or internship.
What are the most beneficial ways to go about these types of interviews?
“Successful interviewing for any type of employment opportunity requires practice and research,” Nancy Hutchison, director of Cooperative Education and Career Services at Cabrini, said. “People have to know themselves, their skills, their abilities and speak about how this will benefit a particular organization.”
Students are advised to do online research for the company or school district that they are interested in, prior to the interview.
According to Hutchison, making an effort to attend school board meetings, checking with local Chambers of Commerce, joining a professional trade association and utilizing the Philadelphia Business Journal are all ways to get ahead.
“Preparation is key. Know your goals both academically and professionally,” Brian Quirk, assistant director of Cooperative Education and Career Services, said.
It is wise for juniors and seniors to associate themselves with several different people to become more educated about a certain business or organization.
Students are urged to realize the importance of being well-prepared and at ease during the interview.
Another tip is to develop questions for the interviewer in order to appear more professional.
“Know what you are looking for in the position,” Quirk said. “Why are you considering this particular position or field? Think of the skills required for the specific position and evaluate if your skills match the job description.”
The significance of the resume could not be stressed enough. It should be reviewed by a student’s adviser, the career center or a trusted family member or friend well before the interview day.
Whatever transferable skills that a student has and can apply to the company is what the interviewer wants to hear.
“Don’t be discouraged if you do not have a lot of material for your resume because statistically many college students do not have a lot of work experience,” Quirk said. Practicing speaking skills, having a positive attitude and preparing for any type of question that might be asked is greatly encouraged.
“I have not experienced an interview yet but I have one coming up,” Christina Clark, senior elementary and early childhood education major, said. “I want to find out what the organization is, what they expect, their teaching style and their curriculum. I am also creating a portfolio so I can show my best work that I have done over the past for years, such as lesson plans.”
Students in this situation must dress professionally, prepare a portfolio and have more than one resume handy. “Candidates should know how long it will take them to reach the interview location and arrive 10 minutes early,” Hutchinson said.
It is vital to keep a traditional outfit in mind and avoid wearing heavy perfume, after shave or excess jewelry. There should be absolutely no sign of cigarette smoking or coffee on the candidate’s breath.
Following the interview, it is suggested that students ask politely for business cards from the interviewer as well as anyone else they met along the way.
Writing thank-you notes is also an excellent way to become noticed even after the interview.
“I am actually interning right now for Perfect Weddings so I remember that before the interview it’s good to get a good night’s sleep and remain calm,” Brooke Young, junior English and communication major, said. “Think about what your goals are and what you expect from the company the night before so you don’t stutter when you’re talking.”