The Interview Process

Recently, I noticed that a lot of my blog posts start with my exposition of how I wrote said blog post. I think it’s a way for me to break the fourth wall. Currently, I am in a café that is right next to City Hall in Philadelphia, tucked in a table in the corner and eating a super over-priced fruit bowl.  However, today is a Wednesday. It is one of the strangest days to be in Philadelphia as a Swarthmore bubble resident (otherwise known as a ‘Swattie”), as we don’t often venture into the city during weekdays.

I am here under special circumstances, as I am currently undergoing the hectic process of SFEP internship interviewing. SFEP is the Swarthmore summer program in which Philadelphia startup companies offer internships in computer science technical positions and marketing and business development positions. Swarthmore offers a stipend of $4,800 for those who get these internships.

A lot of these internships ask us to come into the office during the second round of interviews to get a feel for the office environment and to meet in person, which makes a lot of sense. However, it has caused me to come to Philadelphia frequently during the week to do a lot of interviews in quick succession. Even though Career Services offers practice interviews, there is nothing like the real thing. Therefore, I say put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to interview!

My Quick Tips and Reminders

1. They want you to be their perfect candidate as much as you want the position.

Remember that they advertised this position for a reason, and you could be the person they need! Emphasize your talents and don’t be afraid to advocate for why you’re unique and special. Don’t reserve the things you’re excited about—let them show through.

2. Do your research.

A lot of companies ask about how much you know about their company and the role you’re applying for. Find the little and unique things about the position or company (or both) that really interest you and prepare that beforehand. See if you can make connections between these unique factors and the experience and skills you have.

3. Send follow up emails.

This is something I think a lot of people tend to forget, as it seems overly polite. Honestly, in terms of job interviewing, being more polite is better than not being polite enough.

4. Remember your questions.

Almost a third of the interview time is reserved to your questions for the interviewer(s). Consider what you really want out of this position, and ask what you’re genuinely curious about. “How is the structure of this internship position? Are there other interns? What do you think is the most important goal of this summer position?”

5. Last, if you’re dealing with a lot of internship positions, I really recommend a spreadsheet.

It is so easy to get confused between various internships and remembering the stages you are currently at in the hiring process. Making a spreadsheet with ‘position title,’ ‘dates of interviews,’ ‘status,’ of where you’re at in the process, and notes for you to take about observations on the interviews and roles is incredibly helpful. It’s also helpful if you happen to get an offer for more than one position!

Remember that internships aren’t just about resume building; find what you’re interested in! There isn’t only one ‘right’ internship and most of them are about learning. The process is hard, but you’ll be great. Above all, trust yourself!


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