Art of the Intern
Getting there is half the battle.
For years, an internship experience has been a crucial piece to the puzzle of life postgraduation, yet knowing the steps to claim that piece is not so easy. More importantly, after getting that internship, success can seem to be a mystery. Lastly, easing out of the internship program and preparing for life after so many milestones can be daunting. The proactive start to all of this is knowledge.
Story and Photos | Taylor Ringenberg
Want an internship?
First thing’s first: find an internship. Using websites such as internqueen.com and internships.com make the research process as simple as inserting a location, the semester, the type of internship and clicking search. Webster University also supplies an internship search database called Gorlok Jobs, allowing students to build custom job and internship searches. Applying to internships in minutes is easy using previously uploaded résumés, cover letters and other documents.
After uncovering the dream internship, gather crucial information like deadlines, requirements and whether or not a portfolio is required. Be warned: The portfolio is a crucial part of the interview process and should be prepared with a critical and finely trained eye. Recognize when a second opinion is necessary, and ask for it.
Before sending out applications, clean up any social networking sites. The cleaning of the networks can be done in multiple ways: removing photos from that one night of heavy drinking at the local bar, hiding embarrassing Facebook status’ about why ninjas are better than pirates and changing Sarah “Sexbomb” Jones to the legally accurate Sarah Jones is a start.
Once these requirements have all been met, apply for the position and prepare for the worst part of the application process: waiting for a response to the application. If lucky, scheduling an interview will come in a few days or weeks, depending on the company’s deadline. This is the perfect opportunity to scour the company’s website for information. Research the head of the company, what the company is known for and even previous interns.
Once an interview is scheduled, interview tactics are the second most important part to preparing for an internship. Practice different techniques with a friend to ensure smooth answers as well as to guarantee nothing sounds insulting. This is also a good time to think of any questions the interviewers may ask and the appropriate and concise answers to them.
A week before the interview, sit down and come up with at least 10 questions to ask the interviewer at the meeting. This will not only serve as mental preparation, but also prove that extreme thought was put into the interview before hand.
During the interview is a time that dressing pristinely will go a long way and will show that the position is of the utmost importance.
Once all is said and done, return home and send thank-you emails to every person who was in the meeting. The next day, mail out hand written thank-you cards to add a personal touch to the application process, making the interview more memorable.
Got the Internship,
So the interview went smoothly, the interviewers loved what they saw and offered the internship position later, either through an email or a phone call. The first day is now here and the projects are piling up. Now, it’s time to step up and become the package that was presented and promoted in the interview.
The role of the intern, as tedious as it may seem, is to make the life of the boss easier. Interns fetch the coffee—hopefully on very rare occasions—write small articles or meeting transcripts, and most importantly, learn.
Avoid things like skipping work, dabbling in the office gossip and making inappropriate or hostile comments in the work area to ensure a smooth internship. This will not only create an impressive reputation but also reflect positively in the eyes of the internship supervisor. It is always good to get on the boss’s good side.
Whilst interning, it is crucial to continually monitor social media sites. Think twice before posting those drunk photos from last night’s shenanigans for fear of retribution.
It’s over. Hours upon hours have been dedicated to copying and delivering papers, drinking copious amounts of caffeine to finish projects and networking with the brilliant minds that run that originally intimidating company. Friendships have been made, and connections are in place, but now it is time to move on.
The most important thing is to close the time spent at the internship in a positive way. Similar to how the connections began, write a handwritten thank-you note to the people in charge as well as all the other connections made. Communicate how meaningful the experience has been and what an honor it was working for the company. Basically, this is the time to schmooze and attempt to get a flourishing recommendation letter.
With an undergraduate degree in one hand and knowledge from an internship in the other, it’s time to use the skills that have been acquired to do what every adult must do—get a job. Here begins the real fun: repeating the whole process over, only this time gaining not only long-term employment, but also payment, a coffee minion and maybe even someone in a lower position to dictate—the intern.