One interview. That’s all it takes. One interview can get you a job. All I had was one interview for one job, and I got it, but it wasn’t just because of my interview.
Being an engineer, I don’t necessarily have the best interviewing or business skills. Last semester I was in a Professional Development class for Mechanical Engineers. This class brought in a guest speaker each week to talk about different jobs that are available, and how the jobs required different skills to handle problems that could arise. As well as this, we would be allowed to ask the speakers questions about how they got where they are in their career. They also all threw in how they sat in the same room and also learned about professional development, because they were all Nova grads.
As part of this class, they highly recommended that we go to the career fair (we had to get a professional headshot for our LinkedIn profiles as an assignment), so I gave it a shot. I was wandering around not really knowing where to look, simply going up to random tables to ask about their companies. As the career fair was winding down, I decided to make one last effort and went to a table to talk. He said they weren’t looking for any Mechanical Engineers, but told me to go talk to another company where his friend was. I went over to that table and handed them my resume and was chatting with them. The lady asked if I wanted the free stuff they were giving away and I said, “Sure!” After that she leaned over to me and said, “Tell me the truth, do we have the worst free stuff?” I told her that it was great stuff and that I had needed a drawstring bag which was one of the freebees. Eventually after talking about their company they asked if I was available for an interview the next day. I made an interview with them through the on-campus recruiting at Villanova.
They told me that my interview was going to be a Behavioral Interview which was something I was unfamiliar with. For those of you that don’t know, a Behavioral Interview is when they ask you situational questions, and ask you of an experience in your life that was similar and how you reacted to this. It is a quick thinking type of situation, but I was told to think of some examples ahead of time.
The next day I had my interview and, needless to say, it didn’t go very well. I walked out of the interview thinking ‘I’m never going to get this job.’
I had all but forgotten about the job and was searching for other internships when I walked into my Professional Development class a month later and found out that the speaker was from the company that I had interviewed for. I’m a naturally curious person so I ask a lot of questions. During his presentation I asked a couple of questions and when the presentation was over I went up to talk to him. He was talking to my professor but as soon as I walked up he stopped talking, turned to me, stuck out his hand for me to shake, and said “thank you for participating in my lecture, I really appreciated it.” Then, to my surprise he said, “Do you want to work for Exelon?” He said it in a kind of joking matter, but I was slightly taken aback. I had come up to talk to him about whether or not it was appropriate to email the company asking when I would possibly hear back about the internship because that’s what they told me to do at the end of my interview. After pausing for a moment, I replied saying that I had actually had an interview with his company a couple weeks before. All of a sudden he got very illuminated and told me to email the recruiter, CC him, and tell her that we talked.
I did what he said and he emailed me back saying that he sent along a note to my interviewers and that it was great meeting me the day before. About 3 weeks later, I got a call during class from the company. I had gotten the job! I was so ecstatic. To this day I still believe that the guest speaker got me the job. I know my interview was not the best, and I may not have been the most qualified, but the fact that I made a little effort during his presentation, and talked to him afterward made a world of difference. The littlest things can make the biggest difference when it comes to networking. As they say in the business world, it’s all about who you know, and after this experience, I whole-heartedly believe this to be true. I know this may sound like some cocky story, bragging about how I got my internship, but that isn’t the point. The point is that networking is probably the most important thing that you can do. One conversation can determine whether you get the job or it goes to someone else. Companies like to see initiative. Networking, in my opinion, is probably the best way to take initiative in your career, maybe second to actually applying for the job. So make sure you network!! It may just land you a new and exciting experience.