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Recruiter offers advice to students to prepare for your internship interviews

The right internship can be a launchpad into a successful career. Along with teaching critical professional skills, companies frequently draw on their pools of interns to fill open positions.

“The internship can open up a ton of doors, especially at large firms,” says Zach Yarnell (MAcc 2017), a recruiter for Deloitte. “For most people, the internship is just a prolonged interview, if you will. It’s a trial run. Our interns do real work. They’re really temporary first years.”

Whether it’s with a recruiter on campus or a sit-down interview in an office, Yarnell says it’s critical to ask real, authentic questions to make a good impression—and to make sure the position is the right fit.

Zach Yarnell

Here are five he thinks are most important:

(1) What drew you to this career? What has your career progression been like?

The first step toward success, Yarnell says, isn’t which company to select for an internship, but what field to ultimately pursue. Narrowing down a career path and determining what sort of work you want to do will make it easier to wade through pages of internship postings and streamline your search.

(2) What are some of the good qualities you’ve seen in people you manage?

Instead of the cliché question, “Can you describe what a typical day looks like?” consider framing the question more broadly and tailoring it toward the person you’re talking to. If the interviewer is in a more senior or supervisory role, remember that they may not have worked in an entry-level position for a while.

3) Ask a question that’s shown you’ve done your research. For example: “I was looking at your website and noticed a new audit technology that’s being rolled out soon. Are you seeing this implemented on your team?”

Demonstrate to your interviewer that you are curious, passionate and interested in learning more by asking a thoughtful question. Look for tie-ins with current events or browse the company’s website. “You don’t need to be an expert,” Yarnell says, and you don’t need to spout irrelevant facts to look impressive. Ask a question with a purpose.

(4) How do you utilize your interns?

Learning what projects interns are typically assigned to and which teams they work with can shed light on what your daily responsibilities may entail. It may also be helpful to ask if internships typically lead to further opportunities with the company. Even if graduation is still a few years away, Yarnell says, it’s good to think about future job prospects.

(5) What are some things you do with your coworkers to promote wellbeing at work?

A healthy office community is critical to individual success and can be an important determining factor, especially when choosing between a few different internship offers. Consider asking how employees are supported at stressful times of the year. Or, Yarnell says, come up with a list of two or three workplace factors that are important to you and craft questions around them.

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Please visit DU’s COVID-19 website and subscribe to @uofdenver Twitter for updates regarding COVID-19.