My Internship: The Interview

Dear Interview Dreaders,

I took a risk, and so far, it’s paying off. A few weeks ago, I heard about an internship opportunity. I wasn’t sure what the opportunity even was or if I was willing to commit to a full-time internship for the summer. But I catered my resume and cover letter to the particular position, which didn’t yet have an official job title, and sent it off via email anyway. I heard back a week later, set an interview date and felt confident that if I got it, it’d be a good thing for me. For this particular job, I had two family members working for the company, which is always a plus (knowing people and networking is key to getting most jobs!).

Before the interview, I practiced some interview questions and answers out loud and did a little company research, though I already knew quite a bit. Half an hour before my interview, I realized it wasn’t a phone interview like I’d thought. It was an in-person interview and the drive alone would take more time than I had. I panicked. I wasn’t dressed, my hair was in a messy bun, I had no makeup on, I didn’t know where I was supposed to be. My stress went from a 3 to a 10 in a hot second. I immediately started trying to email the hiring manager, eventually giving up with that and opting to try and call him. But his desk number was disabled. So I dialed his cell phone and panicked some more because I wasn’t sure if that was acceptable. I’d never talked to the guy in person let alone on the phone!

He didn’t answer but he called me right back. “No problem” he said, when I explained that no where in our email correspondence was it made clear that the interview was in-person. He asked me when I could be there, and I told him an hour later than we’d scheduled. We hung up and I ripped up the stairs to pick out an interview dress, curl my hair, put mascara on, and stress over whether sandals were appropriate. They were all I had, so they would have to do though they weren’t ideal.

I drove like a madman all the way there, getting lost and nearly hitting cars in my blind spot at least twice. I arrived jamming out to Modest Mouse, my game-face music, twenty minutes early. I managed to park in the right place on complete accident. I walked in and told the receptionist I was there; she phoned for my interviewer, Phillip. She told me not to be nervous, and that helped because my nerves were frayed. I joked silently to myself that I’d at least passed my adaptability test.

When I saw Phillip walking through the door, I stood up and met him with a firm handshake and nice eye contact. He offered me coffee or water, which I declined because I brought my own, and we moved into the conference room.

Let me tell you, it was not an interview in the traditional sense. He asked me to tell me about myself, but cut me off after I’d mentioned what college I went to. We started talking about Vermont’s weather before he started asking me what questions I had for him. Right off the bat, I threw him a stumper with, “What would an average day look like for me?” He tried talking about how I’d be doing part writing, part intern work, and part other marketing tasks, but couldn’t give me much more than that. So he called up and brought down his two employees, Jessica and Melissa, from the marketing department. They were young and pretty and did their best to tell me what it was like working there. I immediately felt a rapport with them and knew I’d enjoy working with them.

But, we kept drifting off topic. We talked about Jessica’s obsession with Harry Potter. We talked about our cats and dogs, and which was a better pet to have. Within the first few minutes, I realized it was less an interview and more of an initiation. I got along swimmingly with my would-be co-workers and Phillip reminded me strongly of someone I knew, but couldn’t place until later when I got home (he was a combination of a past boss, a serious, tough-love guy and my geography teacher from high school who had an infectious smile and bubbly laugh).

At the interview’s end, after Phillip had finally grown tired of asking, “What else can we tell her?” I stood up and Phillip told me that he’d call me the next day. I walked out knowing I’d gotten the internship in my gut. I drove home with my music even louder than on the way there, driving more slowly this time.

He didn’t call the next day, but he did email saying he’d call me the day after that. He ended up calling while I was doing my lunch dishes and offered me the internship. I finally found out if it’d be paid( yes) and how much (almost double minimum wage in my home state). I was thrilled. I started full-time that Tuesday, three days away.

The take-away here is that you should never discount an opportunity until you learn more about it. What started out as a possible bust turned into something really relevant and valuable. Any interview you have, whether you get the job or not and whether you want the job or not, will give you experience that will only help you later. Preparation is key to a good interview, as is knowing when and where you have to be well before thirty minutes ’till your interview. Also, don’t drive so fast that you almost crash into people in your blind spot like I did.

Do you have any interview or internship success stories? We’d love to hear them!