The Office of Experiential Learning answers some FAQs from students who visit the office
Q: The interview for my internship went great but it’s been ___ days since I’ve heard anything from them. How should I follow up with them, if at all?
So you’ve made it this far. You came into the OEL to meet with your internship coordinator, filled out all the paperwork and applied for the most interesting internships- and a few more just to be safe. You’ve interviewed with the ones that got back to you and sent them a handwritten thank-you note (right?) You feel like you rocked the interview with your top choice. And now you wait…and wait… …and start to second guess yourself. Did they like me? Should I call? The whole thing starts to feel more like following up from a first date than an internship search.
In a lot of ways, it’s sort of the same thing. You put your best face forward to convince them you’re right for the job. Your gut tells you things went well and if your gut has a good track record, you’ve probably got a decent shot. You certainly wouldn’t want to blow it by insecurely and abruptly contacting your interviewer to ask if they chose you.
It’s their decision- as the cliche “We’ll let you know…” implies. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing to check up. There’s just a few things you should keep in mind before you send an email (never a phone call):
1) Talk to your internship coordinator. Our office exists solely to help you with these sort of things. Regardless of the tips here, if you’re unsure about how to handle a situation at any stage of your internship process, we’re here to help you.
2) Save yourself some worry ahead of time. A few magic words at the end of your interview can save you a freakout a week later. Something like: “When do you expect to have made a selection?” or “About when will candidates be informed of the decision?” If they say two weeks, you know that silence even into the third week may not be cause for alarm.
3) People are busy. Besides hiring the next intern, your interviewer is exceptionally busy, you know… working in the fast-paced music industry. These sorts of decisions are made between projects or when your supervisor-to-be is gobbling his lunch and going over that day’s schedule. Despite the fact that you have certainly been dreaming about working at X-Awesome Music Company for the last two weeks, the question of the internship vacancy is comparatively low on the company’s agenda. Not all supervisors will have a decision within a week. This is why you started the process early*… right?
4) Personal circumstances. So you’re taking a three week trip to Tibet and will be totally off the grid? Exceptional circumstances sometimes change the situation and your employer may want to know how it will effect the decision timeline. It’s definitely a good idea to talk this sort of thing over with your internship coordinator, as each situation is highly unique.
5) Don’t assume. Your interview felt like a slam dunk, but you can’t read the interviewer’s mind. The other candidates could have been a waste of time or total rock stars compared to you. Don’t assume anything about whether you made the cut- good or bad.
If you’ve met with your internship coordinator and still want to contact your employer for an update, be sure to integrate the above points into your message (particularly #3 and #5). You want to appear confident and professional, but not cocky or desperate. Above all, you want to respect the interviewer’s time.
Subject: Following up
Hi Ms. X,
Just wanted to follow up on our interview from March 3rd and see if there was anything else you needed from me. I look forward to hearing from you.
Notice how there is no demand for an update regarding whether you “got the job.” You’re simply giving a polite nod to the employer, and they get that you’re wondering how things are coming along. The nebulous “and see if there was anything else you needed from me” is a subtle way of acknowledging that you are being respectful of their right to make the decision in their own time. Your internship coordinator will have other suggestions based on your unique circumstances- they have plenty of experience with these situations.
As a reminder, Be sure to stop into our office if you are interested in summer internships. The summer internship search is just getting under way!
*Students are strongly encouraged to begin the process with our office one semester ahead of the semester they intend to intern.
Joe Burke is the Office Manager for the Office of Experiential Learning
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