You might be thinking: I’m still in college, why should I care about getting a job now?
It’s a fair question. Applying for internships or jobs during college can be intimidating and hard to navigate. As a college student myself, I understand that getting a degree is the main priority for students. At the same time, however, it is useful to gain experience and skills outside the classroom to help better figure out what you want — or don’t want — to do in the future.
I reached out to my sister, Elana Kalish, for some insight and tips on how to put yourself out there and make a good impression when interviewing. As a former recruiting coordinator (she got a promotion since this interview!), she was the main point of contact for interviewers, candidates and recruiting team members. (Now, Elana works on content partnerships at the same company: Tubi, a video-on-demand service.) We sat down for a chat that left me feeling less overwhelmed about the job application process. Hopefully it can do the same for you.
Let’s say there is a specific company I would love to work for, how could I find out if they take interns or are hiring?
LinkedIn can help you find out if the company has a University Recruiter, which means they likely take interns. You could also search “Intern at _____ company” on LinkedIn to look for any current or past interns. If you don’t see any positions posted online, I would recommend looking on the company website for a contact email. You can email them selling yourself, explaining what you envision doing, and sending a resume that is tailored to the company.
How do you suggest preparing for an interview?
You should definitely research the company, learn their values, and read any recent news about them. If they sell a product that you can use, try it out so you can show you are familiar with what they offer. Since interviews are now — and likely in the future — conducted online, make sure your Zoom/whatever technology is up to date and that you have good wifi connection. If not, let them know in advance so you can set up a call instead of a video chat. Make sure to be early and tidy up your background before. Just because it is online doesn’t mean you can’t engage, so be sure to look at the camera, smile, and nod during the conversation.
It is also important to prepare questions to ask them. Some suggestions are:
- What will I be expected to do day-to-day?
- How big is the team?
- What are the career progressions of people who have been in this role?
- Why did you join this company and why did you stay?
- If you could change one thing about your job, good or bad, what would it be?
Interview questions often involve a lot of experience recall and personal evaluation. How do you recommend self-reflecting before an interview?
Really review the job description before and brainstorm examples about how you match their desired skills and align with their values. It is common that you will be asked about a challenge you have overcome, so really think about your best example, whether it was in school, work, or life in general.
What characteristics do you think are most important to portray during an interview?
Be yourself, be concise, and be human.
How should you follow-up after an interview?
As soon as you can, send a thank you email acknowledging your appreciation for their time and conversation with you. If you can, mention something you talked about during your interview. In a couple sentences, sell yourself one more time and let them know you are looking forward to hearing from them!
Need other resources?
- If you are unfamiliar with Linkedin, check out this workshop in the UC Davis Global Career Development Series: Build Your Global Professional Brand with LinkedIn
- Don’t know where to start with resumes and cover letters? The Internship and Career Center has a plenty of resources to help you!
Leah Kalish is a third-year student majoring in sociology — organizational studies, with minors in education and professional writing. In addition to interning with the Majors Blog, she works as a student assessment researcher at the Center for Educational Effectiveness.