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How International Students can Prepare for Interviews for Internships/Externships

Internships and externships can give students a significant advantage over their peers upon entering the workforce. For international students, this can be a valuable asset. 

How you conduct yourself in the interview is key to acceptance over another candidate.  

Internship or Externship?

Be sure you know which type of program you’re applying for before you set up the interview. Internships and externships both grant students the opportunity to gain vital experience in real-world settings and circumstances. 

How International Students Can Prepare for Interviews

Whether you’re interviewing for an internship or externship, the ways to prepare for it are much the same.

Know the Company 

There are a few tricks to get the inside scoop on the company you’re interviewing at, as well as the interviewer.  

The Internet is a great research tool, and LinkedIn can provide additional information that you may not find on the company’s website. 

Do check the company website and learn what you can about their history, products, or services and the company’s Mission Statement and Vision if it’s listed.  

Conduct an online search to see what mentions there may be in the news. This is a great way to show you’ve done your homework on the company.  

If you know the interviewer’s name, check their LinkedIn profile to get more information on how long they’ve been with the company. 

Remember to ask your interviewers questions as well. Come prepared with thoughtful questions to ask that show your enthusiasm for the opportunity.  

Leverage Contacts 

See if any students at your current (or previous) school have had an internship or externship at the company. See if they will spend a little time with you answering questions.  

You can also ask your fellow students who have done internships or externships for interview tips and what they feel contributed to their success. Don’t stop with just one. Try to find at least three students, as each one may have a different perspective and unique insight. 

Practice 
 
Any student preparing for an interview will benefit from gathering typical questions and practice answering them. International students may benefit from this exercise even more. 
 
Generally, interview questions for an internship or externship are not unlike those for a regular job interview. They’re simply less focused on your qualifications for a specific role and more focused on your education and interest in a particular field or industry.  
 
Check with fellow students who are also headed for interviews and see if they will practice with you.  

Also, ask your school what resources they have that would be beneficial.  

See if you can do a practice interview on Zoom and watch the recording to see where you can improve. But don’t be too critical of yourself. That will only make you more nervous when it’s time for the actual interview. 

Prepare Your Attire 
 
Don’t wait until the day of the interview to decide what you’re going to wear. Not only does this leave you vulnerable to certain items not being adequately clean, pressed, or otherwise ready-to-wear. It also robs you of the opportunity to use what you’re wearing to help make the best possible first impression.  

Choose an outfit that looks professional and is appropriate for the industry. Make sure it’s properly cleaned and wrinkle-free ahead of time. It may even be wise to try it on the day before to make sure it still fits and looks as you expect. Take the same care in the accessories you choose, such as belt, purse, necktie, or shoes. 

Highlight Your Diversity 
 
Many businesses and organizations offering internships and externships place a high priority on representing diversity in their team. As an international student, you definitively bring that to the table. 
 
In your interview, make sure to highlight your skills and experience.  

International students may have a unique background over their American counterparts. As a citizen from another country, and an international student, you have unique experiences to offer an employer.  

Accentuate these qualities to help you stand out from other applicants with otherwise similar skills and experience.  

Expand Your Network 

There is a lot of benefit in attending networking events. First, you have the opportunity to expand your network of peers and professionals in the fields and industries in which you plan to work. Additionally, those connections can become even more valuable after you graduate. Lastly, you may meet future colleagues or lifelong friends. 

Demonstrating these efforts shows interviewers you’re already taking part in the broader community you hope to join. It displays initiative and commitment. It shows you’ve already been speaking the language and engaging in the dialogues relevant to the organization’s present-day needs. Ultimately, your network can add credibility to your case for selecting you.  
 
To expand your network and find out more about internships and externships in your field of interest, contact Computer Systems Institute now. 

References 

“What Is an Externship? (And How To Get One)”; Indeed 
“Top Internship Interviewing Tips”; The Balance Careers 

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