Amidst the laborious workload that students find themselves buried under during the course of the academic year, the promised assurance of a serene peaceful summer break is the impetus that drives every student to push through.
Come summer time, some will be lounging with a drink by the beach or possibly on the couch with the company of hours of your favourite sitcoms and films courtesy of Netflix but some of us will be bustling around to prepare for interviews for placements and internships. Summer is the ideal frame time for students to incorporate the theoretical aspects of what is taught at university into a workplace environment and to obtain an extensive view of the inner workings of your industry of choice. This is a great way to ascertain whether you can visualize yourself working in this industry and to figure out where your strengths and weaknesses lie. In short, students have the opportunity to “test-drive” your possible career role e.g. “Would I be happier in broadcast journalism or am I leaning more towards strategic communications where I can easily branch out into media and marketing?” or “Am I comfortable working in a team liaising with other healthcare professionals or am I more suited to working in a lab with where patient interaction is minimal?.”
The assignments we work on, the teaching material that we consume and the workshops and seminars that we attend – the plethora of tasks performed at third level education lay the rudimentary stepping stones to constructing our knowledge about our imminent professions. The golden key, however is acquiring hands-on experience (either by interning or carrying out a few weeks of work experience) as this enables students to utilize information learned and apply it in a practical way or observe the ways in which they are applied. Aside from networking opportunities and accumulating novel skills, there are a myriad of benefits for students that have the experience of securing an internship/work experience.
Here are five top tips that can help you in the interview process to get you your internship:
Do you want to get involved – get informed
The halcyon days of encyclopedias and large volumes of papers to be read are diminishing rapidly. With Google as man’s informative friend, researching about your company of interest should be paramount. Read the mission statement of the company and understand what their values are – what skills and accolades do they pride themselves in? What do they stand for? Apart from a brief browse through the homepage of the company, read about how the company got established and what skills they value in their employees.
Understand who exactly you want to be interning for the next few weeks is essential as this is a great way to convey that you have shown great interest in understanding what the company stands for as well being zealous about what the company has to offer that has led you to choosing a specific company to carry out your internship.
Sell your skills
Your employer/manager will be curious to hear about any work experience you have done in the past and any volunteering activities that you are engaged in. It isn’t paramount to have work experience that is exactly in line with the career you’re aspiring for however it is important for employers to see that you have acquired or are actively developing certain transferable or soft skills. Such skills will include: leadership, strong communication and interpersonal skills and many more.
It’s vital that you “show don’t tell”. The number of skills that you have managed to catch under you belt is not as important as the way in which you have applied and developed those skills in various settings. Cast a bright spotlight on the skills you have acquired that deem you to be good fit for the company.
Sell your skills come interview time and show that you are someone who is both eager and ready to work!
Clothing etiquette must not be underestimated in the workplace.
“What a strange power there is in clothing” – Isaac Bashevis Singer
First impressions count. Whether this is an unwittingly impulsive three second action or a conscious task, an individual in a matter of seconds can construct a narrative about you from the second they look at you. With such a quick yet critical fleeting screening, it’s important that you can convey a professional and confident stance. Adhering to a formal dress code is a great way to convey the message that professionalism is essentially an important part of you and that you respect the simple fact that the workplace is a professional environment.
Concise and clear is the best way to steer
It’s not unusual to feel a bit of nerves when you are in a new environment however the best thing you can do is to take your time when answering questions. Ensure that your speech is formal, clear and thorough. The manner in which you present yourself holds as much substance as the actual content of your speech. It doesn’t hurt to practice answering typical interview questions in front of the mirror and create almost a good template for any possible questions that most likely will be asked.
Preparation is key
For students that are looking for advice about getting the best results from the interview process the University of Kent is committed to enhancing the Employability of all our students, undergraduate and postgraduate, in order to enable them to compete and flourish in a competitive, fast-moving knowledge-based economy. The University of Kent Careers and Employability Service contains many great tips for students who are looking for guidance when preparing for a successful, smooth interview – https://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/intervw.htm.
Lastly, don’t forget to relax and smile.