I’m on my fourth trip around the internship block, so I know the scenery. But this is how it should be. While most of us are still green with inexperience, it’s time to explore companies and start-ups to really get a sense of who we are and what we want. I’ll say it outright: While we may learn hands-on career skills/information at our internship sites, I believe that what we learn most about is ourselves.
Of course, the first time you go through the application process is scary. You may not have much on your resume and you may wonder about the competition or if you are qualified. This is a dire mistake. Companies are not just shopping resumes and cover letters; they are comparing the personalities, aspirations, communication skills, and professionalism of their candidates. They want to know who is the best all-around fit for the company, the office environment, and the job. For example, I secured an assistant manager position with the Peruvian folk band, Inca Son. They have been around for 20 years and are recognized in Peru as a national treasure. I may have been competing with graduate school students for the internship, but I came through. Why? Because I was professional, knowledgeable, and full of creative ideas. Inexperience aside, I was a fit.
The “fit” may seem like an obvious concept. What may not be so obvious, however, is that it is equally important for you to find a company that matches you. You can’t throw yourself at anyone who will take you. You can’t fall blindly to big brand names or shiny hip corporate images. You can’t be pulled into a lackadaisical office just because the owners are nice. The interview process is like e-dating. You send out your profile, you are contacted if the company is interested, and then you schedule an interview. However, interviews are two-sided; you must have your own work standards for a company to meet in order to deserve you too!
During an interview, you should be eying the environment as much as the employer is eying you. Do the employees look happy? Is the office tidy? Does the company have a clear mission? Are they thriving or barely making ends meet? Are they completing tasks or are they way behind schedule? Do they want to know about you or are they just interested in when you can start? Be sure to discover whether or not the company fits you.
Settle only for the best offer and believe in your worth. NEVER sell yourself short of your personal standard. You won’t be happy and it won’t result in a lasting position.
See? It is just like dating!
Stephanie Rosario is a 6th semester Music Business major who is currently working her 4th internship, a management position at Inca Son: Music and Dance of the Andes. In the future, she plans on pursuing music management, her jewelry design start-up Remnants of Utopia, freelance writing, and her numerous other entrepreneurial hobbies.