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How to Prepare for an Internship Interview as a High Schooler - 10 Things You Should Know

Your performance in an internship interview often acts as the deciding factor in shaping your future opportunities. 

In this guide, we will delve into the importance of preparing for an internship interview and present ten key tips to help you navigate this crucial phase, ensuring you stand out among your peers.

Why Internship Interviews Matter

Internship interviews serve as a pivotal moment that can shape your professional trajectory. It's not just about showcasing technical skills but presenting a comprehensive picture of yourself – your personality, communication abilities, and adaptability. Excelling in an interview can open doors to invaluable learning experiences and potential career paths. Hence, meticulous preparation is not just advisable; it's imperative.

1. Research the Company Thoroughly

Tip: Dive deep into the company's background, values, and recent achievements.

Before stepping into the interview room:

  1. Equip yourself with a profound understanding of the company.

  2. Showcase your enthusiasm by demonstrating a genuine interest in their mission and values.

  3. Explore inspiring passion project ideas that align with the company's ethos.

An example of this can be the Microsoft Discovery Internship, where you interview to be taken on into CS work, focusing on a passion project. Learning more about Microsoft through its different branches, such as retail, corporate, philanthropic, and design + engineering-focused layout, can help you align with its goals as a company.

2. Articulation is Key

Tip: Practice clear and concise communication to avoid "us" and "uhs."

Effective communication is a cornerstone of a successful interview. Practice articulating your thoughts coherently, eliminating unnecessary filler words. This showcases confidence and makes a lasting impression on the interviewer. One way to work around interviewing vernacular is to focus on tactics that public speakers may use. One tactic is known as the STAR method, which is thoroughly broken down in Villanova University's guide to interviewing. 

The STAR Interview Method is a structured behavioral interviewing technique employers use to evaluate a candidate's past experiences and behavioral responses. It involves four components: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. In the Situation phase, candidates describe the context or scenario they encountered. The Task component focuses on the specific task or challenge they faced. The Action phase details the candidate's actions, emphasizing their skills and decision-making process. Finally, the Result component discusses the outcomes, providing insights into the candidate's impact on the situation and overall success or failure.

3. Showcase Your Leadership Skills

Tip: Highlight positions of responsibility in clubs, sports teams, or community organizations.

Leadership is a trait highly valued by employers. Narrate instances where you've managed, inspired, and led change. Explore great leadership programs and activities that can further enhance your skills. Some examples include your involvement in student government, being a team leader, working in volunteer settings, and being a peer tutor. 

4. Emphasize Academic Achievements Beyond Grades

Tip: Showcase research projects, competition wins, and articles to demonstrate intellectual curiosity.

Beyond grades, emphasize your contributions to your field. Consider participating in research mentorship programs or internships, like Veritas AI and the Lumiere Research Scholars Program, to gain hands-on experience if you still need to start!

5. Prepare a Cohesive Profile

Tip: Craft a clear and compelling profile for a lasting impression.

In the second round of the interview process, it is typical for your profile to be presented to the committee. Ensure it reflects your strengths, achievements, and potential contributions in a 1-2 minute pitch. A great example of this can be found on North Carolina State's resume support website, where you can find resumes that span from research to job searches and even major specific outlines. 

6. Reflect on Internships and Work Experience

Tip: Gain real-world experience and reflect on it in your application essays.

Internships and work experiences provide insights beyond the classroom. Reflect on these experiences in your application essays to showcase your work ethic and aspirations.

Depending on your school's access, you can expand on your work by creating profiles on Linkedinhandshake, or even a digication site to understand how to build a cohesive profile of your background. 

See some examples from this writer's profiles on Linked In and Digication!

 7. Craft Exceptional Essays

Tip: Create captivating narratives beyond mere achievements.

Crafting standout essays for your internship application goes beyond listing accomplishments. These narratives should offer a glimpse into your personality and aspirations. By "showing" instead of "telling," you allow interviewers to envision your potential role within the team. Exceptional essays showcase your communication skills and self-awareness, providing a holistic view beyond your resume. Moreover, they demonstrate your alignment with the company's values and culture, making you a memorable candidate in the competitive internship selection process. Invest time creating compelling stories to leave a lasting impression on potential employers. 

8. Guide Recommenders Strategically

Tip: Choose recommenders who can highlight specific strengths and moments in your class.

Select recommenders who can offer a well-rounded view of your strengths. Please provide them with a brief description to guide their focus. Prioritize recommendations from both STEM and humanities instructors for a comprehensive perspective. This strategic approach enhances the impact of testimonials, strengthening your candidacy in the competitive internship selection process.

9. Express Genuine Interest

Tip: Attend sessions, connect with students, and visit the campus to demonstrate enthusiasm.

Showcasing genuine interest in a company can set you apart. Attend sessions, connect with current employees, and express your commitment to being part of their community. One method can include sending emails to coordinators, organizers, members of the selection committee, or alums of certain programs to briefly introduce yourself and your interests. 

Learn more on how to write introductory emails here

10. Expand Cultural and Global Experiences

Tip: Prepare for internship interviews by engaging in diverse cultural experiences.

Participate in studying abroad, cultural exchange programs, or international volunteering to showcase adaptability and cultural awareness. These experiences broaden your perspective and enhance your readiness for interviews. Share these insights during interviews to demonstrate your open-mindedness and understanding of global dynamics, making you a standout candidate. If you don't have access to travel, stay up to date with the global atmosphere and how it affects you and your future interests! Learn more about how to stay updated with news via a blog posted on Linkedin

Internship interviews are not just gateways to a short-term stint but opportunities to shape your future. Navigating them successfully requires meticulous preparation and a strategic approach. Craft your narrative authentically, showcase your strengths, and demonstrate your potential contributions. Good luck on your internship journey!

If you’re looking for an incubator program that helps you establish a developed startup in high school, consider the Young Founders Lab! 

The Young Founder’s Lab is a real-world start-up bootcamp founded and run by Harvard entrepreneurs. In this program, you will work towards building a revenue-generating start-up that addresses a real-world problem. You will also have the opportunity to be mentored by established entrepreneurs and professionals from Google, Microsoft, and X. 

You can access the application link here!

One other option – the Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research, consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Also, check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.

Tenzing Dolma is a Masters student specializing in research following the Nechung Oracle and the historical, religious, and cognitive approaches to its presence. She has a bachelors in Neuroscience from Loyola University Chicago and is currently completing her graduate studies at Columbia University. She hopes to help students find their passions through access to programs and organizations the same way she found hers! 



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