How I prepared for my interviews (MSID assignment)

Job hunting isn’t easy, and it’s an even more painful process for an international student. At times, winning the powerball seems more plausible than getting a “We went through your resumé and we’d like to set up a phone interview” email.

I’ve been in the US for 6 months now and I’ve been sending out my resumé like a struggling rapper with a “fire” mixtape. I’ve learned a few things during this process.

“Always use two email addresses”

When I was editing my resumé, I decided to use the college e-mail address instead of my personal email and at that time it felt like the right thing to do. But it wasn’t until a few months later that I figure out that I’ve been writing my email addresses wrong (cries internally).

“The only way you lose the game for sure is if you don’t play it”

Deciding where you want to apply is the most crucial aspect because you really don’t want to apply at a company where you feel the work culture or the work they do don’t seem to be a fit to you. I made a list of companies that I wanted to work for and some of them were big companies like Google, Facebook, Apple. If you think, “Oh! I’m not good enough for these companies, they won’t even check my application”, then you need to stop. The only way they won’t even check your application is if you never even send one. There is no harm in sending out an application. I don’t even remember how many companies that I’ve applied to because there are some companies that I wasn’t very excited about.

“Persistence is key”

Don’t always look for “current openings”. What people do wrong is, they always go to the “current openings” and if they don’t see the position they want, they give up. I’ve been on many company websites and I don’t always see “UX Intern” but if I think the company is amazing then I shoot them an email with my resumé letting them know that if any position opens up then I’d be happy to discuss.

“Do your research!”

If you get an email response (positive or negative), always google that persons name and find out what if you should be using Mr. or Ms. when responding to them because I didn’t do that in one of my email and I was responding to them as “Mr.” when I should’ve been using “Ms.” (facepalm). This might not seem like a big deal but it actually is. It shows how much you’ve researched about the company and the position and if you’re actually interested in it to do enough research, also I’d be pretty mad if someone said Ms. Sujan to me.

Answer your phone by stating your name so they don’t have to confirm it!

Prepare your elevator pitch. I’ve had two phone interviews here for internships and both times I was asked to “talk a little about myself”. This is very important because you don’t necessarily want to repeat everything you wrote down on your resumé but you probably also don’t want to say that your farts smell like rainbows. One of my interviews was for a corporate style company while the other one was for a startup so my responses were a little bit different and I think it should be because they might have a vacancy for the same position but they might be looking for people with widely varying personalities and in the field of design, that matters.

Before my phone interviews, I went to the company website and went through their products or services. If they mention what product you are going to be working on, thoroughly research that and try to find out what works and what doesn’t. Find out their competitors and see how they are different and try to think of solutions to improve their digital experiences and ALWAYS PREPARE QUESTIONS TO ASK. At the end of the interview they ask you if you have any questions for them and this is where you show them that you really are interested in working with them. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you so don’t be afraid to ask questions but don’t ask anything related to money because that’s definitely a red flag.

“Send a thank you email”

The followup email is extremely important. I sent the followup thank you email a few hours after the interview and I reinforced my interest in working for them. After this, it’s pretty much you waiting for a response for them for an in-person interview or the dreaded “I’m sorry, we decided not to go forward with your candidancy” email.

While this might be demotivating, you can learn from this experience and do better next time.

These are just some things I learned through my own experience and hopefully these will be helpful for anyone who has never had experience applying for a job or with interviews.

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