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Ace your internship interview

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McLEAN, Va. (8/2/10)--Young adults can gain valuable work and life experience from internships. Some intern positions are paid; some are not. In fact, tens of thousands of students have agreed to unpaid internships this summer, in spite of the bum economy ( July 27). Though the Labor Department and Bureau of Labor Statistics don’t track the numbers of paid vs. unpaid internships, a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Bethlehem, Pa., found that 90% of employers representing 20 different industries do pay their interns. Whether you’re seeking a paid or unpaid position, here’s some advice from to help you ace your next internship interview:
* Make a good first impression. Be on time and be yourself. Use a strong handshake and make eye contact. * Be prepared. Prepare for an internship interview just as you would for a regular job interview. Select appropriate clothing and conduct research about the company before the interview. Bring a copy of your résumé with you in case the interviewer does not have one on hand. * Prepare for “internship” questions. Since internship candidates often lack professional job experience, many interviewing companies focus on behaviors rather than experience. Be prepared to describe your ability to learn; your initiative; your problem-solving, planning, and organizing skills; and your contribution to teamwork. * Understand the questions before answering. You want to know exactly what the interviewer is asking, so if you don’t understand the question it’s OK to ask the interview to clarify it. * Focus on skills and accomplishments. Talk about your high-school and college coursework, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and computer and language skills. It’s also important to talk about previous internships and other work experience while highlighting your communication, organization, interpersonal, and problem solving skills.
To learn about a nontraditional college plan, read “Gap Year Before College Can Bring Valuable Life Experience” in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.