One of the best ways to gain experience and insight into an industry is to do an internship. If you are in high school, internships can help you follow a passion or try new things to inform your decision of what college major would suit you best.
If you have been applying to your first internship, chances are, you may already be thinking about your first internship interview. While we can’t completely reassure that you will not be nervous on the day of the interview, we can help provide a good background and few helpful tips that will make you feel more prepared.
What's the differences between a job and internship interview?
There are typically some important differences between a job and internship interview, especially for younger students. The format will be pretty much the same, although internship interviews do tend to be a little bit shorter and are more likely to be done digitally through either phone or Skype. Often, an internship interview may be closer to around 20 minutes.
The internship interview will feel similar to a job interview, but it is important to understand that the interviewer will be aware you may not have much relevant job or interview experience– and that’s okay! While they will be interested in any previous jobs you have had and how you handled them, they are often going to be looking for good team members that will be easily trainable and easy to get along with. All interviewers want to focus on these types of personality traits, but usually with internship interviews there is a little bit more wiggle room for determined and driven young adults that have very little experience in the field. This doesn’t mean, however, that this should be taken lightly – especially since there are likely many other interviewees in the same boat as you. You will still need to work hard and prepare to ace the interview!
Internship Interview Basics:
Interview Basics: These are the fundamentals for any good job or internship interview:
1. What should I bring to my internship interview?
- Review your resume beforehand and bring enough paper copies for all interviewers. It should not be folded or wrinkled.
- Come to the interview prepared with a notebook and pen.
- Questions! You should know enough about the company and the position to ask well thought out questions. This shows you are genuinely interested in the company.
2. What do I wear to an internship interview?
Dress appropriately for the company – try to find out ahead of time how employees typically dress and plan on dressing similar or even a little bit more formal than the standard dress attire for the company. If the company usually dresses in business casual, then you can plan on dressing in business attire. Remember that it is always better to be over than under-dressed!
3. How do I make a good impression at my interview?
- Turn off your phone and keep it put away!
- Arrive early (about 10-15 minutes is perfect) – you should drive the route ahead of time and give yourself plenty of time to get there – if you arrive earlier than 10-15 minutes, you can sit in your car and do a final rehearsal.
- Research the company and industry – make sure you know what the company does and a little bit about the company’s history and products.
- Prepare to answer popular interview questions.
- Focus on good posture, grammar and manners.
4. Should I follow up after my interview?
It's always a good idea to follow-up within 24 hours to thank all interviewers for their time. This is especially easy to do if you have their email addresses. This also gives you the opportunity to emphasize any points you may have left out and/or express your interest in the position even more.
High School Internship Interview Pointers:
The next section we are focusing a bit more specific advice just for high school internship interviews. These can differ slightly because as we stated above, your interviewer will understand you don't have an extensive work history.
- Experience. Be ready to explain how any extra-curricular activities, volunteer opportunities, academic groups or other responsibilities have helped prepare you for the internship in lieu of more relevant job experience
- Passion. Do your research and make sure that you feel comfortable discussing why you are interested in interning in that particular industry or company – if it is an industry that you are thinking about pursuing in college, certainly feel free to share how much it excites you.
- Show Your Maturity. Be confident and be yourself, but keep in mind that as a high school student the interviewer is going to be looking for signs that you are mature and responsible enough to handle the rigors, and social aspect, of an internship with professional adults. Being measured, thoughtful, polite and respectful throughout your interview will go a long way.
- Managing Expectations. Don’t forget that internships are a two-way street. While there are several steps that are helpful to take before getting into the interview to make sure the internship seems like a good fit for you, it is a good idea to use some of the interview to resolve any outstanding questions you may have had. Asking about work previous interns have done, for example, is a great way to get insight into some of the expectations and philosophy the company has about interns.
- Show Your Value. Explain how you will be helpful in your temporary role. As mentioned, this is a two-way street – this means that you need to focus on how you will benefit the company during your tenure as an intern, not just what you want to get out of the experience. Not only will this help you land internships, but if you follow through and do your best to be helpful during your internship, you can really stand out. This may give you the opportunity to use the internship as a great reference or even a foot in the door for future employment opportunities.
JKCP High School Internship Advisor
JKCP has helped place high school students at great companies in dozens of industries all over the Philadelphia area. We work hard to ensure that the internship is a perfect fit for the high school student. One resource that we have are our Internship Advisors – they work with students to discuss short and long-term goals that the student may have. They collaborate with them and leverage their decades of experience to make sure the internship will provide as much value as possible.
We know that internships can be a bit intimidating for many high school students, especially if it is their first one. This is one reason that once the internship begins, the Internship Advisor is a continual resource, available to help encourage and advise the student throughout the internship. This can help remove any obstacles and anxiety so that they can concentrate on what is most important – getting the most out of their internship!