Thursday, January 21, 2010

On The Very First Day...

The first day of an internship or a job is just as nerve racking as the interview was. You don't know what to expect, you feel nervous yet excited. It's like the first day of school.

My first day yesterday went great. I got there early (of course) and was shown where I would be working. With another intern, we were introduced to everybody else in the office. A couple of people remembered me as participant and were very happy to see me again and that I was joining their team.

After the introductions were made, my boss began to talk about the program, what we were going to do, and what he would like to be done. Afterwards, it was lunch time and every Wednesday everyone gets together at the main table, located in front of the office. Mostly the conversation was about what was going on with the "NBC drama," "American Idol," and the recent "Golden Globes."

Its a pretty relax environment.

Afterwards, my boss had a one-on-one discussion of what each of our first project is going to be. My first project is to critique the content of the Web site.

And that was pretty much my first day.

5 Tips for First Day:

1) Arrive early. Don't leave until you have completed your hours. Stay till the end, even if your boss says you can leave early if you want to.

2) Go in with a positive attitude, and relaxe.

3) Like with your interview, it is a good idea to wear something nice. Like business casual or a nice jean with a nice top (depending on the environment of the office).

4) Try to remember every one's names in the office, if its a small working area. (Of course, you don't have to have every one's names memorized on the first day)

5) Don't be hesitant to ask questions. You are here to learn.

Oh one more thing. The day before my internship started, I received e-mails from other people in the company welcoming me. If people took the time to e-mail you and wish you luck, you can also take the time to reply back and thank them. It will simply take a minute.

TIP of the BLOG: If you are working in a relax environment, don't get lazy or carried away. It is still a working environment and things need to be done.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lessons about Phone Interviews

So I had another interview yesterday. And it was again with University of Dreams, but this time I was applying for a position as one of their summer staff programs. And unlike my previous interview, I had it over the phone.

Phone interviews...ya...there not exactly as easy as it sounds. Sure you don't have to "suit up" (a little saying from Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother), or worry about getting there on time (in this case they will call you). But you don't see the person's face and you have to make sure your phone reception is good. I much prefer face to face interview, it makes it somehow more personal and easier for both parties (I think). Somehow I feel like I don't do well on phone interviews, we shall see. I won't hear back from them till the end of January.

But interviews do happen over the phone and here are some tips, some of which I realised afterwards I should have done. But that is why I have this blog.

7 Phone Interview Tips:

1) Be in a good, quiet area where you will not be disturbed. As a precautionary, tell others in your apartment/house that you are going to have a phone interview at whatever time, so they know not to disturb you. And where ever you are, make sure your phone is working. You don't want your phone to have static problems and all of the sudden it ends the call.

2) Phone interviews usually last up to 30 min. or maybe an hour (mine took only about 15-20 min), so make sure you have enough minutes on your cell phone (if that is the number you gave them).

3) Write down the questions they ask, so you can answer them easily and if you sort of ramble, it will help you get back on track.

4) Try not to say "...., so yeah," after your done answering a question. Instead just paraphrase the question (Ex: "So that is why I think its important....". FYI: This is where #3 comes in handy.

5) Take a brief moment before answering the question, so you can gather up your thoughts and not jump in so quickly.

6) Don't talk too fast because chances are the person is writing down some of the things you say. And don't interrupt them in the middle of the question, let them finish first.

7) At the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. After you asked your questions or if you you don't have any, try to tell them something that they don't already know about you and something that might be beneficial.

And before the end of the day, yes, send them a "thank you letter" (see previous blog).

For follow ups on the interview, see the previous blog as well.

TIP of the BLOG: Don't do anything else during the interview (ie: check your e-mail, clean your room, etc) you might get distracted.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Preparing for Interview

I have an internship...and its with University of Dreams. I don't start for another week, but I am very excited and looking forward interning at the company.

When you get a reply back from the place you want to work at (see previous blog), they will probably say that they are very interested in you and would like to set up a time and date to interview you. Once you have the date for the interview, write it down on a notepad and stick it on to your desk, or write a little alert note in your cell phone.

I would suggest that the day before the interview, gather everything you need to bring to the interview. That way you are not running around trying to finds things 5 minutes before your supposed to leave. For my interview I brought a copy of my cover letter, resume, references, samples of my writing skills, and a little notepad with a pen if I needed to write something down (I didn't have to, but its always good to be prepared).

I also looked the company's website and wrote down a few thoughts in case they asked me during the interview. Obviously its a good idea to familiarize yourself with a company's background and what they do.

I think the number 1 rule of the whole interview process is NEVER be late. It will not look good for you. I wasn't really familiar with the place of my interview, so I looked at Google Maps (using street view) so I know what the area looks like and where I can park. Even though I knew it only took me about 20 minutes to get there, I still left a good hour early before my interview. And this is not a bad idea to do. I was half an hour early, but at least it was better than being 5 minutes late.

Here are my 4 reasons why I think its important to be extra early:

1) It gives you time to relax and calm your nerves down. It will help you get focus on the interview, and not on other things (such as did I park in the right place? Did I lock my doors?).

When I arrived early, I walked around the area around the building for a little bit before going in. And it really helped me and my nerves.

2) While you are waiting for your interviewer, observe the environment (if its not at a coffee place). Is this kind of place you would like to work at? See how people address one another/what they wear. Will you be comfortable in doing the same?

3) If you are early, make sure you have everything you need and didn't forget something in the car. (You should probably do this when you are about to leave your car). So if you do forget something, you will at least have time to go back to your car and get it.

4) It just looks good to be early. It shows how dedicated you are and that you would really like the position.

During the interview, listen to what the person is saying. If you are confused about something, ask. Don't just say "OK, sure, yeah." Or you could simply restate what they said to make sure your both on the same page. Answer questions as best you can, the person is looking to see if you will be a good fit for this company, and you need to show it. Give examples or ideas you have depending on what position you are applying for.

I'm sure I'm not the only person, but once when something is over, I think to myself: Did I remember to mention this? Or did I answer this question correctly? But what I usually do is that I say to myself, "I did the best I could. What's done, is done." (I learned that last part from an old roommate).

Now that the interview is done, you can finally breath properly again (haha!). So what should you do? Two things: Treat yourself to something (a sweet, go to the movies, shopping) and by the end of the day send them a thank you letter.

A what!? Didn't you just tell them thank in person?

Yes. But when you send them a thank you note, you stand out because you are still fresh on their mind (I read this through many sites on Google).

Its really simple. Like a cover letter, you only need 3-4 short paragraphs. Do it within 24-48 hours after the interview.

Paragraph 1: Thank them for taking the time to meet you and giving you the opportunity to discuss whatever it was you guys talked about

Paragraph 2: Reflect a little bit about what you guys talked about and why you are perfect for the position. Mention anything else you forgot to say in the interview. And if you forgot to give something to them, attach it to the e-mail and let them know.

Paragraph 3: Its similar to Paragraph 2, but say what you will bring to the company and the position.

Paragraph 4: Let them know if they need anything else, they can call you. Thank them for considering you and that you look forward to hearing from them.

That is it. Then you just have to wait to see if you get it. Usually its a good idea to wait at least a week before calling them, if you haven't heard from them. Unless you know that the interviewing process will take another week or so.

If you got the position, congratulations! If not, its OK. Remember its a really tough process and a hard decision to make. That is why you should find ways in which you will stick out.

One more thing. Don't wait around to hear from them, apply elsewhere as well. There are people who are looking to fill in a position right now, rather than later.

TIP of the BLOG: Be yourself and have confidence (cliche I know) . When you are yourself, you will feel comfortable and will do well in the interview.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Looking for Internship

I was looking at Craigslist, and I saw a posting called Marketing Project Management Intern. I click on it and to my surprise it was a post from University of Dreams. As an alumna of the program, I was so excited.

Naturally, I jumped straight to my e-mail, but not before writing a cover letter on Word, and then pasting it to the e-mail. Afterwords, I reread the e-mail and did spell check on it (3x, no kidding) and checked to see that every word was perfect. Haha.

Last week, I googled on how to write a cover letter since I never wrote one before. And since almost every single internship requested one on Craigslist. I found one that I really like. It was short and sweet. You only need 2-3 sentences each paragraph.

Paragraph 1: State who you are, what position you want to apply for and where did you find it. (I read a tip on how lot of the companies have so many internship positions that when you apply for one, you should make it as clear as possible as to which one you want. Even going as far as writing the posting ID number).

Paragraph 2: Tell them why you are interested in the position. What makes you a good candidate for them to consider. (Some applications will ask you a few questions and its good to answer them in this paragraph).

Paragraph 3: Thank them for considering you and that you look forward to hearing from them. Mention you attached (or pasted) your resume, and also if they would like references or work samples, if they did not ask.

TIP of the BLOG: Be as polite and formal as you can be. But don't use big words that you don't know.