If you’re a college student struggling to secure you first ever internship, you’re not alone. The internship search is competitive regardless of what stage you’re at in the circuit. Many times student’s look for internship to gain more experience before narrowing down a desired industry to focus in on.
Internships are a good way to see if you like a company or industry, but also can be seen as an extended “trial period” or interview for a potential opening down the road. Securing an internship is still a process; from applying to interviewing, the journey may mimic that of a full-time position. Even if there is not an opportunity to join the company full-time at the end of the internship, you’re still expected to act as a contributing member of the team.
Before you can even consider being brought aboard full-time, you must pass the interview stage. The questions in an internship interview may vary from full-time position interviews. But there are always a few common questions you can expect during your internship interview.
Why are you interested in this internship/company/industry, and what skills or experiences do you hope to gain?
Internships are a great way to learn about a specific company/industry, and see if you can picture yourself working there. Sometimes your career goals may not align with the internship opportunity, but luckily this experience is only temporary so you can take some time and figure out your next steps.
Like most interview questions, there is often a right and wrong way you should answer them. When answering this question, you want to show your enthusiasm for the position and that you have done your research on the company. Additionally, tell them what you want to gain from the experience. After all, an internship should be approached as a learning experience, right?
Here is a question you may get: Tell us about a situation where you took initiative or took on a leadership role?
This question usually helps the interview gauge whether or not you are a motivated and driven individual. If you’re a student, chances are most of your leadership experience has come from playing sports or group projects. Both are viable options when it comes to answering this question.
Another way to answer it is with an example of a time when you noticed something that needed to change or could be done better, and you took the initiative to take action on it. This is a great way to show, not just tell the interviewer that you know how to take direction and take action.
How about this question: Tell us about a time you had to learn something completely new?
In any opportunity, you likely won’t know everything that is thrown your way. How you approach the unknown can tell a lot about your willingness and openness to learn new skills. Hiring managers do not want to hire anyone, for a full-time position or an internship, who is not willing to learn. As mentioned before, internships are an opportunity to be a sponge and learn as much as you can during that time.
To answer this, it is perfectly acceptable to mention a class experience. Most classes you take during your college career must be taken because they’re required, not because you’re interested in the subject. Focus on a time where you were open minded when it came to a new class and what you learned from the experience.
Summer is a popular time for college students to pursue internship opportunities. While these experiences are not limited to the just the summer, finding and securing an internship that fits your career goals is a competitive process. The interview phase may differ slightly from that of a full-time position, but it is still a time to showcase your experience and interests to a potential employer. To do so, there are some questions you can expect to be asked during the interview phase.
Knowing your personal brand and articulating it clearly and confidently will be a huge game changer for you. Especially during internship interview process.