Interviewing for an internship is a little different than interviewing for a permanent job. One thing is the same, however: You'll probably be invited to ask your prospective employer questions at some point — and you should be prepared to ask some good ones.
Here are eight questions you can ask in your internship interview that will make you look smart and savvy.
University Research and Review founder Joe Schmoke recommends asking how long the organization has used interns. "You want to see if the organization is used to using and working with interns."
For some interns, it may not be a good fit to work with an employer that lacks established procedures, rules and so on.
Asking about the company's past experience with interns can help give you more information about what it will expect from you. Jennifer Brown, founder and CEO of PeopleTactics, suggests asking what made past interns successful and how you could best make a valuable contribution through your internship, if hired.
"The questions will not only show that you view the internship as way to develop your skills, but to also help the company," she says. In addition, the answers will help you figure out if the company sees the internship as an opportunity to help you develop your skills, or simply an opportunity to bring someone on to help with menial tasks.
This will help you find out about any scheduling expectations managers have for the position, such as your office hours and breaks. Knowing from the start whether overtime or late nights at the office are expected can help prospective interns find a work environment that fits with their schedule and fosters their professional growth, says Donna Ledbetter, author of "Graduate School for Working Adults."
In some organizations, interns are assigned to work for a specific person or department, while in others they're pooled together, Schmoke says. In a pool situation, interns may not have a chance to establish a good relationship with a mentor, or may only get a high-level view of the organization rather than a deeper dive into a specific function. On the other hand, groups of interns may be able to work on larger, higher-profile projects than individuals ones do.
Interns should take full advantage of being in a professional environment, says Adrienne McNally, associate director of experiential education at New York Institute of Technology's Office of Career Services. Try asking "What opportunities will there be for me to talk to and interact with people outside of my department?"
Internship candidates should ask questions that demonstrate their knowledge of the company by inquiring about news items related to the organization or requesting more details on information they found on the company's website, McNally says. "Students can also demonstrate their interest in being engaged employees and citizens by asking questions about how the organization contributes to its industry and community, and how as an intern they will be working towards these causes."
It's never too early to find out whether the company considers interns as potential employees," Schmoke says.
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