Advice, Lifestyle

Tips and tricks for the professional world

Internships, resumes, cover letters, meetings, recorded videos and phone calls. I never knew how much energy and hard work it took to even hear back from a company. But while it takes a lot of time, it’s also an exciting process where you learn a lot about yourself and your field of interest. 

I’ve learned a few tips and tricks that helped me throughout this daunting process, and I hope they’ll help you out too.

Preparing for an interview

How I prepare for an interview varies depending on the format. However, I still always go through a practice round of questions and research the company beforehand. 

My first interview was online in the form of a video recording. I was given about five questions and was presented with each one 30 seconds before I had to record my answer. Luckily, most companies allow you to record your answer three to four times. To practice, I would record myself on Photo Booth — giving myself three minutes to answer questions asked by my family members. This allowed me to experience an authentic interview. 

tips for the professional world
Two people during an interview. Morgan Macphee provides tips and tricks on preparing for interviews, handling rejections and knowing how to network. COURTESY OF EDMOND DANTÈS VIA PEXELS

And in case you’re worried of blanking during a question, I would also advise you to put a monitor in front of you with large-sized bullet points that include the main roles of the internship and why you are a good fit for the position, just in case you need a quick reminder. Every interview I had has asked me questions regarding those two topics. 

Your appearance in these recordings is also important, at least from the waist up. Wear a nice shirt or blazer, make sure your hair is brushed, and sit up straight in front of a plain wall. I suggest you record yourself during the day when there’s good lighting, especially if you don’t have a ring light. 

Of all the different types of interviews I had, doing it over Zoom was always more stressful for me, but the key to doing well is displaying your passion for the role by bringing up similar experiences. 

The last element I want to touch on is staying on topic with the questions asked. I’ve noticed I would babble on and on when I was unsure of how to answer —  always scared to have a moment of silence between me and the interviewee. But I’ve learned to take that moment of instability, and say something like, “That’s a great question. Let me think about it for a second.” Within those seconds of reflection, you are able to gather your thoughts and give an answer straight to the point. It’s much better to take a few seconds for yourself rather than answering immediately with a messy response.

Dealing with rejection

Many of the companies I applied for never got back to me. At first, it brought me down and made me feel like I was not good enough, but I’ve learned through talking with others that everyone goes through this. 

Rejection is a part of the process, especially when you apply to companies you have no network connections to. Everyone handles it differently, but staying confident in my abilities, reflecting on how far I’ve come in life already and continuing to apply to more internships has helped me deal with rejection greatly. 

The more internships you apply for, the less you care about rejection because there is a significant chance one of the companies will contact you. While having an internship is a desire for almost all college students, it is not the end of the world if you do not get one. Use that semester or summer to continue building your resume. Everything counts. 

My biggest hack

The most important factor in getting an internship is networking. Anyone you talk to will agree. Talk to your parents about their friends, talk to your friends’ parents, reach out to teachers, old bosses, anyone in your field of interest. LinkedIn will become your new favorite social media app. 

Using the app to your advantage is easy. Search up the company you want to apply to, and limit the search to only alumni of your university in an area of your interest. Once you have found individuals who meet these criteria, draft a message saying you hope to talk to them briefly and mention you are a current student at their previous university. 

Everyone I’ve talked to through this process has been very helpful since they want to see me succeed and will assist in any way they can. Many people I spoke to said they would either speak on behalf of my resume or help connect me to colleagues in the same field who are offering internships. 

The process can be daunting, but it’s important to continue building your connections since it’ll help you meet more people from outside your circle.

Understanding the job application process can seem intimidating and terrifying, but we all have to start somewhere. Making mistakes is inevitable, and while stumbling over your words in an interview or reaching out to an alumni with a message full of typos can feel awkward, it’s these mistakes that help us to grow. Believe it or not, almost everyone has an embarrassing interview story. So put yourself out there and just try your best. Before you realize it, knowing how to apply to a job will be like knowing the back of your hand.

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