With today’s highly competitive job market, internships and experience have become essential, if not mandatory, additions to a resume. This may not be news to some, but for those new to this, don’t be discouraged if you have yet to start on this journey. Securing your first opportunity is the hardest part, and as students who never thought they would intern at a Big Four or begin their journey at a start-up, we are here to share application and interview tips to help stand out.

1. Seek Out Opportunities As Much As Possible

It is so important to explore opportunities within your desired industry. Whether in high school or college, this can be done by attending career fairs, professional social events, or networking on LinkedIn, and it makes all the difference. It allows you to become familiar with companies, and connect with employers and employees of your desired companies, giving you an advantage to stay in contact about future opportunities. It never hurts to start early and be proactive in seeking out opportunities.

2. Research, Research, and Research

Thoroughly researching the companies you’re applying to and the roles you’re interested in is crucial. Understand the company’s culture, values, and recent projects. This knowledge will help you tailor your application, provide thoughtful answers during interviews, and spark genuine conversation allowing you the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.

Prepare for Common Interview Questions

Familiarize yourself with common interview questions for your industry with a simple Google search, or by browsing Linkedin. Have a prepared elevator pitch that is tailored to the position you are applying for, as the most disguised common interview question is Tell me about yourself. Practice responses for each question in a way that is comfortable and most effective for you, as this preparation will help you articulate your thoughts, leading you to feel more confident during the interview.

Know What Kinds of Experiences to Talk About

Reflect on your past experiences and select those that best demonstrate your skills and qualifications for the specific role. Be ready to discuss these experiences in detail, highlighting your contributions and what you learned. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t have any professional experience! Your response to this can be about a school project where you lead a team of individuals to a common goal, or if you feel as though you have nothing to reference, several resources offer job simulations to help you gain experience, such as the website Forage.

Highlight What’s on Your Resume, but ELABORATE

While it’s important to highlight key points from your resume, make sure to elaborate on them. The interviewer has already seen your resume, so use the interview to provide additional context and insights that showcase your capabilities AUTHENTICLY. Do not lie about your experience, and be honest about your strengths, and areas for improvement. Employers appreciate candidates who are genuine and self-aware.

Ask Intentional Questions to the Interviewer

Prepare a list of thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer. These questions should demonstrate your genuine interest in the role, the company, and even your interest in learning about the hiring manager’s experience. It is important to throw in a few questions for the interviewer, to show you are genuinely interested, and to also spark conversation and create a thoughtful connection! Asking these questions also helps you determine if the company is the right fit for you because you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you! 

Send a Follow-Up Email

This is a very important step that goes a long way. After the interview, though the wait time varies we like to recommend the same day or the next day, send a thank-you email to express your appreciation for the opportunity and reiterate your interest in the position. A well-crafted follow-up can leave a lasting impression and set you apart from other candidates!

By following these tips and staying persistent, you’ll be well on your way to securing your first internship or job. Remember, the journey may be challenging, but don’t be discouraged. We faced numerous rejections before someone finally gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our abilities. We hope these tips get you closer and closer to your goal. Good luck!

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