As college students, I know for a fact that one thing we hear on an almost daily basis is “Oh, and don’t forget to do your homework!” If anyone else is like me, I dream of entering into the work world—a place where I will never have to hear those “homework” words again. But as I continue to develop myself professionally by applying for new opportunities and interviewing with various companies, I’m beginning to realize that, when it comes to interviewing to enter the work world, we might still face a different kind of homework. And while it won’t count towards a grade or earn you brownie points with a professor, it may seriously help you in your career.
Recently when I was called for a phone interview for an internship position, one of the first questions they asked me was to describe, in my own words, what the purpose of the company was. Now this scenario could have turned out in 2 ways:
Scenario 1) I said, “Oh, that’s a great question. I’m actually not sure what the company does because I just saw the position, thought it looked good, and applied. But I would really love to work for your company!”
Scenario 2) I said, “Oh, that’s a great question. Based on the information I found on your website and from my best understanding of the company, I think the aim is to [insert researched company information here]. I am really excited by the opportunity to work with such an incredible organization.”
Now which scenario do you think actually happened?Luckily for me, Scenario 2 occurred, but only because I had prepared for my interview by doing my homework and researching the company I was interviewing with!
Unfortunately, however, this often isn’t the case—and Scenario 1 happens more often than we might like to think. My interviewer even commented on how few people that they had interviewed had any idea about what the company did, and she complimented me on the composure and knowledge with which I answered the question—all because I did a little bit of simple research! I only needed about 15 minutes, but I took that time to look at the company’s mission statement, read a little bit about what they do, take some notes, and prepare for what types of questions they might ask me and how I might tailor my answers to appeal to what the company might be looking for.
The information isn’t secret and companies aren’t trying to hide it, but it’s our job as students and potential employees to take a little extra time and search for it. Use it to your advantage! If nothing else, maybe the more research you do on a company, you might discover that you don’t want to work for them at all. As students we are at a unique advantage because we have study skills and research skills that we use on a daily basis! And although we may not want to have to apply those skills in our careers, it can sometimes be the unique factor that sets us apart and makes companies want to hire us.
So as excited as we might be to finish college and be done with homework forever, take the time to realize that continuing to do a slightly different kind of homework can have a huge pay off when it comes to getting that dream job or building your career. Take a few minutes to do that homework before your next interview, and watch to see the result. And as always, Career Services can help with any questions you might have—what to research, practice with interviews, or any other questions you might come across!
Written by Sarah, junior Finance major