Urban Gentleman Professional Preparation: Tips for Interviews and Internships

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At The Urban Gentleman, we earnestly want you guys to be true to heart Urban Gents… Renaissance Men… basically, as sappy as this sounds, we want you all to be the best. So, being an Urban Gentleman goes beyond your Canali suits, LRG jeans, or Common Project shoes… it philanders into your professional life.
I call this time of year, “internship season”… this is the time of year that most companies begin their search for summer interns and associates. Many of the top companies begin interviewing potential candidates at the end of January through mid February, but of course their are some that extend into March and even April or later— it all depends on the industry.
First things first… you have to gain experience, so YES you need to intern throughout college. Making the grades are important as well, matter of fact some companies won’t even look at your resume if your GPA isn’t atleast a 3.0, but most companies are looking for a combination of grades and experience (i.e 3.4 gpa and two internships; if your gpa is low, then make sure your experience is high).
Depending on which year in college you start interning, I suggest completing atleast three internships to properly experience different companies and work environments. Your final internship should be with a company that you really want to work for– so basically the internship you take the summer before your senior year in undergrad. The last internship is most important because that is the the company that you may potentially work for full time. It’s also the internship that you should bring your A++ game to 100% of the time, Never slacking, and consistently building a great rapport with company executives. And if possible you want to be able to work their part-time throughout your senior year. Basically, I want to set you up to have many options when graduating from college, and that (final internship) company should sort of be your “guarantee”. But I digress, we’ll come back to those specifics at a later date, let’s first focus on securing the internship…
Here’s your To Do list:
Urban Gentleman Professional Preparation
1. Figure out what you want to do when you graduate. Now, compare that with your current major. Hopefully those two things correlate, if not, then try to find an internship that will meet you in the middle. **(more information on this after #6)
2. Look for the job. Go to your university’s career center and talk to your counselor/advisor. Look to see what jobs are being offered; most schools have websites where companies offer jobs– so gain access to that and write down all the positions you are interested in. You can also take the more straightforward route– visit the websites of companies you want to work for, find their “careers” section, then apply. Its best to do a combination of both. Also, use the connections you have, life is all about connections and who you know… so inquire about potential internships with friends, family, and associates.
3. Spruce up the resume. The format of your resume completely depends on the industry. But their are basic rules to having a great resume. In the US: resumes should be one page, include action verbs when describing what tasks you completed at a particular job, they should be concise yet descriptive, and most importantly they should be tweaked for each job you apply to depending on what the company is looking for. Basically, have about 3-5 versions of your resume. When applying for jobs outside the US, companies usually want more details on what you did, so it’s okay for the resume to be two pages, or even three. Some jobs may require cover letters, which I feel are pointless (lol), but just look online for advice on cover letters. For the most part you won’t have to deal with cover letters until you’re applying for a “real” job in corporate America, internships rarely ask for them.
4. Apply for the job. If you submit your job application online be sure to call or email two days or so after to make sure they received it. If you’re eager about the position you may or may not want to call a few weeks after you’ve submitted everything, to politely request an interview. Most companies will let you know whether or not they’ll contact you, but sometimes companies, especially smaller ones, do not. So in those cases it may, just may, be appropriate to call and request an interview.

5. Prepare for the interview. A few things go into preparing for the interview: clothing/attire, questions, and what to bring.

Clothing/attire:
What you should wear to the interview depends on the industry. Most companies want business casual, but a more traditional or prestigious firm may want full on formal business attire. If it’s an artistic or fashion company you should look chic and stylish, without over doing it– basically build an ensemble around a pair of perfectly fitting dark denim jeans. A very relaxed cultured company may prefer t-shirt and jeans. When in doubt, just call the company and ask.

Questions:
First off, you have to research the company you are applying for. Visit their website and social networking sites, print off the history and basic facts about the company. As much as I dislike the skewed “facts” and credibility of websites like Wikipedia, they often have nice basic summaries on the basic facts of companies (just never use them when you’re researching a real subject, especially one in which a person can impose their opinions into the “facts”). After gathering the company’s history, you should make a list of potential questions the interviewer may ask. Most schools have sample questions in the career center, you can also find them online. You should ask and answer a range of common questions, practice the interview with a friend or family member or setup a mock interview at school. My university suggests the STAR method when answering interview questions. I find the method to be even easier and smoother to use during interviews if you drop the ‘T’, but still keep the acronym STAR in mind. When asked a question– describe the situation, briefly discuss the actions you took in the situation, then conclude with the positive results (that are a result of the actions you took in the situation.) Very straightforward and easy to remember.
What to bring:
Always, always bring your resume, atleast 2 copies, maybe 3. Bring the page you printed with the summary of the company– you can study over this while you’re waiting. Bring chapstick, breath mints, and a mirror… you do not want chapped lips, bad breath, or an out of place hair when you go into an interview. These are all items that can fit in your pocket or in the slot of your resume portfolio or folder. Also bring a pin, paper, and a list of questions you want to ask the employer. Employers usually like it when you ask a question or two, this isn’t required, but optional… you can find a list of questions to ask at your school’s career center or online.

Also, bring any materials that they need to see– this may be your portfolio, a past project, etc. Once you’ve secured the interview ask them what you need to bring.

Please be on time, meaning get their before time. Plan to be there 30 minutes before time.

6. A few days after the interview send a thank you letter to your interviewer. Emails are most efficient, but you could also send a thank you note in the mail– it’s pretty old school, but may stand out among the other applicants (as long as it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of all their other mail).

Now all you can do is pray that you get the job, so be patient and wait. Continue to apply for other positions in the meanwhile.

**(extension of 1. Figure out what you want to do….)

If your major is business, but you really want to be an artist… look for a business related job at an art gallery or museum. If your major is industrial engineering, but you really want to work in graphic design, try to secure a position at an industrial design firm (but just make sure you can show your creativity in some kind of way). If you are not able to combine your major to what you actually want to do, then look for a job that matches your major. Why do I say that? Well, because you can always build up experience with what you most eagerly want to do since you have a passion for it.

I have a friend who is a biomedical engineer, but has a passion for art. She enjoys her career as a biomedical engineer, but loves painting more than anything else; she paints the most amazing oil paintings. She’s able to sell all of her paintings and has made quite a living off her passion, so much so that in a few years she could probably just be an artist. But in the meanwhile she works in her industry to build her foundation and to build up her bank account. Always remember the quote, “We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do” (from the Great Debaters). So sometimes you have to prioritize and focus on the career that will make you the most money and will allot you the most opportunities, but then use the funds you make to jumpstart the career that will truly make you happy. Some may call it settling, but it’s only settling if you don’t stick to the game plan. I have three friends/associates who worked for top investment banking firms for a few years, they got tired of the long hours and workload so they quit. They were able to use the couple hundred thousands they had saved from working to open their own businesses doing what they love. This option is not for everyone, but it is for many. If you’ve spent 4-5 years studying engineering, accounting, computer science, or some type of specific major then you should use that degree you worked hard for to fund your passions. Once you’ve smartly saved and planned, you can drop the job and focus on a career doing what you really love.

________________________________________

Remember summer internships are more competitive than fall and spring internships. So if you aren’t able to secure one for the summer, don’t worry in the least bit, you have plenty of other options:
- take summer classes (get ahead in class)
- travel to a foreign land/study abroad
- join a summer long volunteer organization like Americorps
- get a retail job that correlates to what you want to do (if you want work in fashion work at your favorite clothing store, if you want to work in technology secure a job at Best Buy or the Mac Store, etc).
- become an entrepreneur: offer tutoring services to kids (drop off flyers at your local elementary/middle/high school), cut hair, make t-shirts, become a party promoter, sell unwanted items on eBay or Craigslist, etc.
Then towards the middle/end of the summer begin looking for fall internships. These internships can also be competitive sometimes since you may have recent college graduates vying for the position, but if you start your search early enough and put in enough applications you should be able to score atleast one job offer. Spring internships are usually the easiest to obtain… much less competition than in the summer and fall.
More Interview Help/Tips:



- Glassdoor.com has to be one of the best websites for those in the process of interviewing for jobs. Past and current employees write about their interviews, salaries, and experiences with the company. Many people even provide you with the specific questions they were asked at specific companies in specific locations. They even let you know if they did or didn’t get the job. Be sure to check this website out.

- If you don’t already have one spend a few bucks and purchase a resume portfolio. Check out a few here. The black Manchester Zippered Padfolio is a great option (only $30).

- You can get more information and tips with suits/business casual attire here.

I hope these tips are able to help a few of you! Be sure to bookmark it for feature reference. Feel free to give more interview and internship searching tips by commenting below.
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5 Comments


  1. wow. great article. this blog never ceases to amaze me!
    can i intern for you guys? lol. but seriously– is that possible?

    i'll shoot you an email to prove how serious i am, lol.

  2. wow what timing, i have a job interview in less than an hour and this article really helped me prepare a bit more. thanks UG

  3. I couldn't have arrived at this article at a better time in my life. I'm actually in the process of fixing up my resume and looking for open PR positions, as I just graduated from a business college. Thanks a lot for the tips. When I get the position I'll shoot over an email and let you know how it turned out.

  4. wow. this post is amazingly informative. reading this actually motivates me to pursue options i had never contemplated exploring. really great read. thank you.

  5. i have an interview for a summer job as a sales rep with H&M on friday. been researching online and found this blog. after 5 minutes its already my bible. love it, thanks so much!

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