A Freshman Survival Guide to Interviews

“Dear Rosie, I’m a freshman. In interviews, they always ask me what experience I have in whatever subject they use, and I don’t have much experience. How do I answer those questions?”

Hi, CWIB reader!

First of all, that’s incredible that you’re getting interviews as a freshman. You’re already way ahead of the game! Secondly, it’s important to understand that if a recruiter has called you back for an interview, it means they have looked at your resume/application and liked what they saw. Interviews are nothing but a way for them to see how you’d fit in with their company’s atmosphere, and how you’d handle certain scenarios under pressure.

There are three types of interviews – case studies, behavioral, and technical. For a business position, interviews are most often behavioral. This means they’re testing to see how you react to their questions and come up with answers in a short amount of time. When it comes to the “experience” question, remember that they already know about your skills and past experiences based on your resume. It’s all about how you sell yourself – your attitude, your answer delivery, etc.

If you’re in a situation in which you feel like you don’t have the right skills for the company or position you’re interviewing for, an important thing to remember is to sell whatever you have. Talk about the classes you’ve taken, whether they’re in high school or college, as long as they’re relevant. For example, if it’s a technical position, talk about your experience with technology (such as coding classes) or using social media (which is something we all do…come on). If you’re a business major, you’ve probably taken ACIS 1504, a technical class that teaches basic Excel skills. Refer to that!

A piece of valuable advice I got from one of our panelists at Power Panel this year was to twist whatever you have into what the company is looking for. Were you a waitress in high school? Talk about customer service, people skills, and working under pressure. Have you babysat? Talk about responsibility, organization, patience, and dealing with difficult situations on the fly. Did you work in retail?  Working with people, following delegated tasks, and conducting shop operations are just a few examples of things you can discuss with the interviewer!

You can also talk about clubs (*ahem*, CWIB!) you’re involved in, past positions you’ve held, any projects/volunteering you’ve done, and discuss what you learned from these activities. Remember that you don’t always have to talk about your major in school – flaunt your extracurriculars!

Last but not least, remember to talk about your future plans. Talk about classes you’re going to take later, clubs you plan on joining, or any skills you intend to learn, like a new coding language or a certification you want to get. When a company takes interest in you for a position, they’re looking to make a long-term investment in hopes that you’ll one day join them as a full-time employee. Make sure they know what you have in store along the road!

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Maximizing Your Summer

Question: I’m a freshman and have had trouble finding an internship. I know it’s uncommon for freshmen to get internships, but I don’t want to do nothing this summer. What can I do to maximize my summer?


Dear CWIB reader,

First of all, I want to highlight some things that students often forget: not all internships are like the classic office job where you copy papers or get coffee for people at big firms, and some may not be paid. An internship is a position that students hold in an organization with the goal of gaining real work experience. It’s okay to think outside the box when considering internships. Just keep in mind that there are many more opportunities than you think of, so you just might have to be willing to look a little harder. Are there any passions you have that could be relevant to your major? You could ask a local business or charity if you could shadow someone who works there with your dream job. However, if you aren’t able to find anything, there’s always next year.  In case you can’t find anything, below is a list of a few things that you can do to maximize your summer.

  1. Clean up your resume: you may have already done this during winter break, but it’s always good to keep it updated.

  2. Volunteer: getting involved in your community looks great on resumes!

  3. Get a job and save: take the pressure off during the year by saving as much as you can during the summer!

  4. Get ahead on a class or two: if you don’t have a hectic schedule, you can take classes at your local community college to get ahead.

  5. Network with people you met on a company visit: Ask for tips on how to ace internship interviews or ideas for resume builders! This is a great first step to building your network!

How to Handle Rejection

There are some topics that we all deal with that are often ignored by people in our society. Rejection is one of them. Though it is common with every single one of us, we hesitate to discuss it. This may be because of embarrassment, shame, or refusal to admit failure. However, how natural is it to fail? Is success always guaranteed?

 At this time in our lives, rejection is something that has almost become an everyday occurrence. Many of us are currently applying to things, whether it’s summer jobs, internships, on-campus organizations, scholarships, etc. We also face rejection outside of our career lives in relationships with others, or even rejecting our own selves.

However, one thing is clear – rejection can’t be avoided. There’s no “5 Step Plan” to preventing rejection. Instead, you can improve your methods of dealing with it once you have to face it.

I’ve gathered testimonies from four different girls who have faced rejections in every aspect and have now secured internship positions at well-reputed companies. All of them have learned valuable lessons from their job searches and have used them to their advantage.

1. “Learn from your mistakes and keep on trying, no matter how hard it gets.” – Incoming Amazon intern

       I spoke with an incoming Amazon intern who told me about her struggles with interviewing. After four months of applying, interviewing, and getting rejected from just about everything, she was ready to give up. However, she was able to identify her weakness, which was her lack of preparation for technical interviews. She soon learned how exactly to study and prepare for these interviews in order to leave the best impression. She also stopped getting discouraged by watching people around her getting jobs. Eventually, she received an offer from Amazon as an engineering intern. Her key to success was to keep trying, no matter how bleak the situation seems.

2. “Don’t limit your options by sticking to ‘big’ companies.” – Incoming CNN intern

        This friend of mine I spoke with told me her tips for dealing with rejection, which includes telling herself it’s not the end of the world and there are so many other companies to apply to. When she gets rejected, she just starts filling out more applications without dwelling too much and losing momentum. Most importantly, she’s learned that it doesn’t matter where you work. Getting rejected by a large company is to be expected since they are very picky, and they have a large number of applicants from all over the world. The purpose of internships is to learn new skills, and you have just as much of a chance doing so at a smaller company or a startup, which is where she interned last summer. Her key to success is to not overlook small companies because you want a flashy, big-name internship that’ll look good on a resume – look for the value the position provides. It also doesn’t hurt that the smaller the company, the higher your chances tend to be.

3. “Don’t get overly attached to a position.” – Current Home Depot intern

        Emotions tend to get the better of us, no matter what situation we’re in. It’s important to remember to stay objective and focused during the application process. Whether it’s rejection emails, cold interviewers, or just no replies at all, none of it will affect you in the long run. Just accept the situation for what it is and keep going. Even if a position sounds perfect for you and you feel like a good fit for it, try to not get your hopes up and get attached since there’s always the slightest chance it won’t work out. While it’s good to have hope, you should stay grounded and practical at the same time to avoid excessive disappointment. Her key to success is to remember that you’ll end up where you need to be if you continue to pursue your goals without giving up because of one rejection.

4. “Think of rejection as a push in the right direction.” – Incoming KPMG intern

         It’s difficult to accept rejection because it feels like proof that you weren’t good enough. However, it’s important to understand that it’s not against you personally. When companies recruit, they have a very specific type of person in mind – someone who matches their corporate culture – and it’s often hard for them to find just the right match. If you didn’t get a job you applied to, chances are, you will definitely find something better. It also means that even if you did get that job, it might not have gone so well because you didn’t fit well with the company initially. Her key to success is understanding what leads to certain things happening and continuing to search for a company that is the perfect fit for you.

        This is a critical time in our lives, where it seems like securing jobs define our worth. However, we are still young and still have time left in school, so use it to your full advantage! Companies are always visiting Virginia Tech, whether they’re at a booth at a career fair, speaking at an organization’s meeting, or just hanging out in the Pamplin atrium waiting for you to swing by. Take every opportunity available to  build relationships instead of “connections.” Remember, you have time. Rejections don’t signify failure – they’re just a sign that you applied for the wrong place, and your dream job is still out there. All you have to do is keep searching!