It seems like in order to get ahead in the real world, every college student is expected to have several jobs, some incredibly valuable internship experience, leadership positions in at least 5 different clubs or activities, a Nobel Prize in two of the six categories, over a million followers on Twitter/over a million subscribers on YouTube, and bonus points for a letter of recommendation from the President.
I figured those leadership positions might be difficult to acquire and maintain, so early this semester I took a swing at getting an internship for the spring. Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP) is specially designed to guide students through this intimidating internship process. You begin with a couple informative meetings in the beginning of the semester that explain PCIP in its entirety, then are asked to demonstrate your aptitude and enthusiasm via your application. Once in, the program has an extensive list of opportunities offered via ClaremontConnect that are specifically for PCIP students. Most, if not all, request your resume and a cover letter in an application, and, if they are interested in you, will later request an interview (in person, via Skype, or via phone) to finalize their decision. Once they realize how amazingly awkward or endearing you are, the companies send out offers! Smooth sailing, right?
Yes, PCIP is incredibly helpful and the process isn’t that bad. However, it takes quite the effort to manipulate what you gained out of yelling at kids all day as a lifeguard into something impressive and relevant in your resume/cover letter. And the cover letter is SO. VERY. IMPORTANT. This is your initial pitch to the company, the meaning behind those bullet notes on your resume, concomitant with an explanation of personal growth and written in a way that peers into your personality. If any of that comes across and you get an interview, be prepared for any form of communication. I had two in-person interviews that came to Pomona (bless their hearts), one over Skype, and one at Sony Pictures Studios. Interviews are EVEN. MORE. IMPORTANT. HENCE. THE. CAPS. My advice: really research the organization, have answers beforehand for the common questions, market yourself as much as possible, expect the oddball questions (there’s always one that’ll catch you off guard), prepare questions of your own, and be confident!
As for my own personal experience with these interviews, I must say it was quite the roller coaster ride, but ultimately I am glad I went through each one. There were bumps, of course. For example, I felt especially caught off guard when the interviewer asked, out of everything on my resume, what was the hardest part about lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons. Instinctively and unfortunately, I said the kids getting sick all over the place, but I quickly noted the endurance and determination I developed out of working 8 hour days in the sun. There was also the whole driving-into-and-out-of-LA aspect of the interview, which absolutely terrified me. I actually drove from the studio around 6PM-during rush hour. Los Angeles rush hour. I can probably name three separate occasions when I thought I was going to die during this nightmare, but I kept going, careful and tenacious, because I dared not harm the car I was borrowing from my oh-so-wonderful friend. The minute I got back on campus I even texted him “I’M ALIIIIIIIVE” out of sweet relief.
So, to sum up my process, I went through:
1 PCIP application,
6 Internship applications (1 resume and 6 cover letters),
4 Interviews (It could have been 5 but one company’s email ended up in my spam folder and I found it too late. Make sure to check all your junk mail when expecting responses!),
2 Mocha Lattes for the first time to get me through the drive back from LA,
1 Week of waiting,
2 Days of deciding,
and ended up with an internship for this spring with Bright Prospect and a grand feeling of pride for getting through it all.
Oh, I also went to Disneyland as a reward.
It was absolutely amazing.