By BRIAN HIRSCH
So you just finished your internship and you are asking “What’s next?” Before we go on to what is next it might be helpful to hit the rewind button and take a look backwards. In fact, if you are still doing an internship this might also help. In fact, if I could make students actually keep a journal to document their internship it would make this exercise a lot easier.
By hitting rewind and reflecting a bit on your internship it’s possible to identify some really important things: 1) Skills you gained 2) Experiences that you had 3) Things you learned.
Skills You Gained
We are working in a competencies based recruiting environment. Future employers need applicants to clearly articulate skills and to be able to provide specific examples that they in fact, have these skills. An internship is an ideal way to improve existing skills and learn new ones. They key here is reflecting on them and being able to tell the story.
Experiences That You Had
It is a pretty sure bet that everyone will face “behavioral” interview questions. The most prevalent type of question asks for an example: “Tell me about a time when you had a difficult to deal with customer or client.” Reflecting on your internship almost always produces specific examples of how you handled various situations and will make answering these questions a lot easier. The second form is more hypothetical; “what would you do if you caught someone fudging data to make recommendations more palatable?” Again, experience as well as discussions and training you may have received could provide great insight as to how best to address this type of question.
Things You Learned
Have you reflected on the specific things you learned about an organization, industry or occupation from this experience? Can you express that learning clearly? Can you use what you learned to enhance a cover letter, or tell a more interesting story? Can you use what you learned as a differentiator between you and your competition?
Once you hit the rewind then you can move forward with “what’s next.”
Author: Brian Hirsch, Ed.D., University of North Texas – Intern Coordinator
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