By Audrey Wikan

June 11, 2020

On June 5, we hosted speaker Catherine Rodriguez, a Washington, D.C. Recruiter to share tips on navigating the job market and applying for internship opportunities, particularly during COVID, and what to expect in the interview process.

Catherine, who currently serves as the Senior Talent Acquisition Business Partner for the Charles Koch Institute, explained how the world of internship and job searching is rapidly changing with the evolution of technology and the current pandemic. She encouraged the young women across the country listening into our webinar that they should take advantage of the current climate and find opportunities that set themselves apart from others. With a list of do’s and dont’s, Catherine laid out her professionalism tips that will help you land your dream job, especially during our risky economic climate.

Catherine’s 6 Tips for Job-Hunting, Internship-Finding Success

1. Stay Organized

Staying organized through your job hunt and interview process will help you keep track of your many applications and prepare for your interviews more effectively. Granting yourself the ability to quickly refer to a concise list and description of each job you have applied for will show your potential future employer how well you spent your time preparing and how committed you are to the position.

2. Pay attention to the instructions for applying.

Although this sounds like a no brainer, always follow the instructions listed on the application. Applicants will often miss steps on the application, put documents in the wrong format, send their materials to the wrong contact, and so on – so follow every step! You will be surprised how this small detail could be what sets you apart from other applicants.

3. Do your research.

Before the interview, be sure you researched the mission and vision of the company, the job position you have applied for, your interviewer, and any recent news about the company. Prepare an answer for the two most common questions an interviewer can ask, “Why have you applied for this position,” and “What makes you stand out from other applicants?” In addition, prepare three thoughtful questions to ask at the end of the interview. This shows that you are engaged, thinking critically, and you are eager to learn more

4. Understand there is a time limit.

Your allotted time with the interviewer is critical to your future with the company. Be intentional with your answers and questions, be appreciative of the time they are giving you, and be prepared to concisely explain why you are the best candidate. Typically, you should expect about 15-30 minutes for your first interview.  If the interview is running longer than expected, use the opportunity to ask specific questions to your interviewer, or have more of a natural conversation. Chances are, the interview is going very well!

5. Be direct and intentional.

Your first impression is key, so prepare your answers well and be clear with your interviewer.  If you are asked to give one example, be sure you only give one. Their time is valuable, and they may have other interviews that day, so do not ramble or give too much background to a story. Practice being clear and confident. The best way to do this is by erasing filler words like “um,” “yeah,” “like,” and “you know.”

6. Keep the process moving and say thank you.

Don’t forget to ask what the next steps are in the hiring process and when you should expect an answer from the company. This gives you a better understanding of their timeline, and won’t leave you waiting by the phone for weeks. It is also professional, and appreciated, to send an email thanking your interviewer for their time. Not only does this show your appreciation, but it makes it clear that you’re excited about the opportunity and hope to have an answer quickly.

No matter how much you prepare, it’s completely normal to walk away from an interview wishing you said something different, responded more clearly, used less filler words, etc. But don’t give yourself a hard time! Think about what you did right, and how you can improve for your next interview. Do an immediate “brain dump” after each stage in the interview process, and write down all your thoughts and the questions that were asked down on a piece of paper. That way you can stay organized and practice better for the next one!

Watch our webinar with Catherine Rodriguez!

About the Author

A rising junior at the University of Florida, Audrey Wikan studies political science and hopes to use her degree to serve Florida in the U.S. Congress. On campus, she is a Trump Victory Intern, a Student Senator, serves as Chairwoman for her school’s College Republicans, and is a member of Chi Omega.

Audrey has experience working for Marco Rubio’s campaign, the Republican Party of Florida, Susan B. Anthony’s List, the OPS Clerk for Florida Legislature Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, the Trump Victory Campaign of North Central Florida, and 10-can (pro-Second Amendment Veteran Organization).