Tag: tips

A potential employer just invited you for an on-site interview—congratulations! Now what do you do? Margie Beck, Career Advisor at the Weston Career Center, shares a few job interview tips that will help you make a positive, lasting impression:

1. Research the company and practice your interviewing skills

Don’t show up thinking you can “wing” the interview. Make sure you know your resume inside and out, as everything listed is fair game to be asked about (and beyond). Know the company’s core competencies by which they assess their candidates (i.e. teamwork, leadership, communication, etc), and make sure you have examples to support your case of each one, at a minimum. You’re not expected to know everything about the company, but you should be familiar with some general key facts about the company and the job you’re interviewing for.

2. Be on time… but not too early

Take some time before the interview to make sure you know how to get to the interview location and aim to arrive no earlier than 15 minutes early, unless instructed otherwise. If your commute takes less time than you anticipate, find a nearby coffee shop where you can wait.

3. Arrive to the job interview prepared

There are two important things to consider in order to arrive prepared for the interview:

  • Your attire: Make sure you fully read the instructions provided to you before the interview.  If nothing is indicated on suggested dress, err on the side of being more professional than not (i.e. business suit). More and more companies these days are moving to a business casual dress code, which includes during the interview process, but many are still not there. Also, take it easy on heavy perfumes or colognes, visible piercings and tattoos, and excessive and ungroomed facial hair for the guys. Lastly, make sure your suit or outfit fits well. There is nothing less flattering than a business suit that is either way too small or way too large.
  • Materials to bring: Less is more. All you really need is a nice padfolio or notebook that can store extra copies of your resume and serve as a place for you to take down notes as needed. If you have your cell phone with you, make sure the ringer is set to silent before you enter the building to avoid embarrassing interruptions.

4. Understand that the interview starts as soon as you enter the building

You never know if your interviewer is the person riding up with you in the elevator or the person that accidentally cut you off in the company parking garage. Be extra cautious and extra courteous to everyone you meet, including the receptionist. Everyone can weigh in on your candidacy at any time. A simple email to the recruiter on candidate observations and interactions can be added to your file when reviewed for hiring considerations. This can go both on the positive and not-so-positive side.

5. Write thank you notes

Make sure to show your appreciation and thank the interviewers and all of the various employees you meet throughout your visit. You should also send out genuine, non-generic thank you notes to all of these individuals no later than 24 hours after the interview. My personal rule of thumb is to try to send out a note within 12 hours to help keep you top of mind to the employers. It also demonstrates your interest without coming across too eager.

To hand write a thank you note or send an email? Handwritten thank you notes are definitely a nice personal touch and often in the minority among types of communications sent by interview candidates. If you opt to send a handwritten note in the mail, make sure to send a quick, brief thank you email within the 12-24 hour timeline to ensure your message is received timely. They will then receive a nice surprise a day or so later with your personalized, handwritten thank you note.

Margie has spent a majority of her career in public accounting, in client-serving roles (audit and tax), and campus recruiting. She most recently worked at Ernst & Young as a campus recruiter on the East Coast, managing campus relationships. Margie serves as liaison to the Olin Professional Accounting Advisory Board and is a career advisor at the Weston Career Center. 

You thought once you had the internship you would stop worrying. The truth is, you are now more worried than before.  You have a ton of questions: “What will I be doing? How do I get the most out of the summer?  What should I do to differentiate myself? Will they like me?” Okay, maybe that last question isn’t going through your mind. It should though, and I will tell you why a little later.

Let’s take the other questions first.

“What will I be doing?”

Well, hopefully, from a functional role and responsibilities standpoint you were able to get a sense of this during the interview process. If not, you do need to get those basic questions answered. There is still time to ask the recruiter or someone you have connected with at the company to get a better idea. You should ask for specifics if possible. Try to understand if you will be responsible for a defined set of tasks or outcomes. Will you be working in a team or fairly independently?  Will you be able to have exposure to numerous business areas? Be prepared with questions that will help you gain the understanding you need to be as effective and successful as possible during your internship.

“How do I differentiate myself from other interns?”

A goal for most from their internship is to receive a full time offer at the end of the summer. To do this you not only have to do a stellar job but you also need to differentiate yourself from the others. To help understand what this takes: ask.

Ask the recruiter; ask a mentor (which you should seek out immediately!); ask your supervisor. By asking multiple people you will get different perspectives which will all be helpful. Once you have their guidance you can go into action making sure you deliver against it.

During the course of your internship you need to ask how you are performing. You need to assess your progress and your contributions several times over the course of the internship. Don’t wait to the end to potentially find out you missed something. There is no chance to course correct then. If you ask throughout the summer you can work to improve or strengthen certain areas. And ask at the end. Know where you stand before you pack up and head back to school.

“How do I get the most out of my experience over the summer?”

This is not only up to your employer but also you. You need to have a sense for what you need to learn, be exposed to, and walk away knowing more about. You need to think about how you will define success. Helping to define that can steer you to the actions you should take to make sure you can check on your “must haves”. Sure, your employer has expectations you need to meet. That is a given and you should never lose sight of that. However, you should have expectations too.

To get the most out of your experience, first and foremost, you need to be in the thick of things. You need to SHOW UP. And I don’t mean just physically come in on time and be in the right place. There is more to this than the status quo.

Are you trying to understand the company culture and how they treat their employees, their customers, their vendors? Then SHOW UP to every outing you can physically (and appropriately) attend. Go out for the company after hours get-togethers. ASK for an invitation to a customer event or a vendor event. Treat it like you are “auditing the course”. If you are hoping to see how corporate decisions are made at a C level, talk to your supervisor or mentor and ASK if you might be able to attend a C level meeting. Granted this may be a little tricky, but asking with a clear description of why might just do the trick. Are you hoping to develop strong analytical skills then STEP FORWARD and ASK to take on a part of a project or shadow another project team member that has those responsibilities. Look for opportunities to do more and separate yourself from the pack.

You may be seeing a theme here. To really get the most out of your summer you need to show up, step forward, and ask.

And now the last question – “Will they like me?”

We don’t want to necessarily admit it, but that is in our heads. Always. It is like the first day of school. You want to be liked. For your internship this is part of it as well. Companies will make offers to people they see themselves working with, that they like. There, I said it – don’t send the hate mail. In internships and in real life the secret here is the same. Building a broad network over the summer will help you be known by people at all levels and in many areas of the company. The more people that can speak to who you are (and not just your supervisor) and how you “fit” with the company will be helpful. Seek out people to connect with over lunches, coffee, or whatever works with your job. Be professional, do your job at the highest level, be helpful, be a team player, be respectful. It is the basics. Be someone you would want to hire and work with. It really is that simple.

Fast forward, you made it to the end of the summer and everything feels great. You think it was a successful foray into the business world and your supervisor and the company echo that with a full time offer.  Congratulations!

You have the job (if you want it). Now what?  More on that later.

Guest Blogger: Lisa M. Herbert, LMH Advisors and WCC advisor

Few times during the academic school year are as stressful as midterm week.  Olin alum-founded Varsity Tutors shared these four tips for undergrads facing midterms this week.


Dear PMBA 40,

Well, the time has come. You’re starting your journey towards an MBA, which is the end of a journey itself. You’re past thinking about getting an MBA, studying for the GMAT, applying to schools, and stressing over whether or not you’ll get in. Congratulations! But it’s just the beginning…

As a PMBA’er who has a year under his belt, I thought I would impart some tidbits I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Get to know your fellow classmates – They mention this all over Olin, and they’re right, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you graduate and don’t know every person in your PMBA class. These are the future businessmen and women who might be your client, boss, co-worker, or connection for that job you’ve always wanted. Olin graduates are going places and it’s in your best interest to hop on that bandwagon. Here are two easy ways to do that:
  • Go to After Dark – At least for the first six months. I understand that it’s easy to go home and crash after a full day of work and three hours of class but the informal setting is a catalyst for building friendships that will keep you sane during grad school. Yay for new friends!
  • Start a WhatsApp/GroupMe Convo – This will help your class stay connected throughout the grind. You’ll use it to discuss homework, make plans, study for tests, and overall relieve stress. Trust me, there’s a comfort knowing that 65 other people can relate to your situation. You’re also in for a humorous Saturday morning read when you wake up to 150+ notifications from your new friends going out the night before.
  • Know Your Strengths – For most of your core classes, you will be working in groups, which you’ll dread love. Figuring out what each person is good at at the beginning of group work will make the whole process of working together run smoothly. I’m not a numbers person but I can write, hence why I was the resident editor who provided colorful commentary whenever we were doing statistics homework.
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Things – It’s easy to get bogged down in the details, whether that’s the one question on your group homework that you couldn’t crack, or the case that you just didn’t understand (I’m looking at you, Finance). Take a deep breath and know that it’s not going to make or break you or your grade. You’re already juggling a lot – the additional stress isn’t worth it.

There are other class-related tips that I’d be more than happy to impart but those are better suited over a beer at After Dark. I’ll see you there.

Image: Lecture Hall, Kai Schreiber, Flickr Creative Commons