How to prepare for internship, job interviews

Preparing for an interview, whether it’s for an internship or a job, can be quite the endeavor, but Gannon University’s Student Success Center has the information students need to get the job done.

James Finegan, the director of career services and cooperative education at Gannon, said it’s important to note that many constituents are involved in ensuring you’re the right person for the job. In other words, you have to really prepare and know what you’re doing in order to convince employers that they should hire you, as opposed to the other applicants.

He said the center puts out an interviewing guide to help students, and faculty from the center are often invited to classes to speak about preparing students to find jobs. He said the main components of these visits are job search, resumes and interviewing. They also do individual appointments in the center, in which they start with the resume – which he said is the beginning point of preparing for interviews.

Olivia Colonello, a senior business administration major, obtained an internship at the Erie County Convention Center Authority in early January. She said the Center was particularly helpful when she was working on her resume. “They try to fix it up as much as they can,” she said.

After their resumes are complete, Finegan said students are invited to schedule an appointment for a mock interview in the Student Success Center. He said these help students get a feel for what the interview is actually going to be like.

He said faculty members in the Center approach the interviews from a student’s point of view. So instead of focusing on what the interviewer is looking for, they stress what students should know going into their interviews.

He said the biggest thing is knowing yourself. While students should know details about the company they’re interviewing with, the most important thing is knowing how to talk about themselves. “It’s about making that first impression,” Finegan said. “You want to demonstrate professional presence.”

Emily Taft, a senior legal studies major, obtained an internship at Agresti Real Estate in September 2010. Since then, she has been offered a part-time position at the agency during her remaining time in school, and a full-time position starting after she graduates.

Taft said interviewers are looking to see what you know about their business. “They just asked me a series of questions basically relating to my internship,” she said.

Colonello said she used the Student Success Center to find her internship, and they were helpful when she was looking for an internship to apply for. She also said the Interviewing Guide they provide for students was particularly helpful in preparing for her interview.

Both Taft and Colonello stressed that the most important thing is to prepare for your interview.

“Be prepared,” Colonello said. “Don’t go in blind.”

Taft said one of the most helpful ways she prepared for her interview was by looking over her class notes and talking to her professors about how to prepare.

“It was really helpful for me because everything wasn’t fresh in my mind. Looking over my notes didn’t take me very long and I felt like it prepared me a lot,” she said. “Asking my professor who worked in the field before was really helpful, too, because then I knew the things to focus on.”

Finegan said to make sure you’re prepared with your materials for the interview. Things you should bring include extra copies of your resume, your transcript, extra copies of your reference sheet, and any examples you may have of work you’ve done that relates to the job.

He also advised that you get rid of all unnecessary stuff that’s not related to the interview.

Lastly, Finegan stressed that you should always send a thank-you note. He said less than 40 percent of students send notes after interviews, so it’s a sure way to give you an added bonus after you’ve completed the interview.

Finegan said that making yourself even one-tenth of a percent better than the other interviewees can be enough to get you the job, so all students should take advantage of the free services offered by the Student Success Center.

“Some of the little things that you do well, if you can just do them better, that may be enough for you get the job,” he said.

KELLY MORELAND

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