The Process


For second-year Ed.S. students in Illinois, this coming Friday is a big day. It’s called Decision Day, and it is the day we are officially allowed to accept or reject offers of employment as interns next year. Most of us have been interviewing since about January, and some of us have even received offers, but none of us are technically allowed to accept any offers until this Friday, March 15th.

So as you can imagine, this is a week of great anxiety for many of us. And of course there will be some who receive no offers, or not the right offers, and will have to keep submitting applications. This is not too unusual, as there are always schools that haven’t even posted their internships yet because they are still working out their budget situations for next year. I’ve heard that it is not outside the norm for students to accept internships into April and even May. So it is an ongoing process.

But I’ve been receiving some anecdotal reports of what it’s like out there in internship interview world. The most frequent sentiments are that it is exciting, confusing, and stressful. The flip side is that there is also a lot of secrecy and usually gregarious peers are playing their cards very close to their chests. So with the exception of your closest friends, it’s kind of hard to know where everyone is in the process at any given moment.

“There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

– United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

So without knowing specifics, I just wanted to offer a general show of support for everyone in my cohort. Maybe also a little encouragement and distraction. So…

One way to put your situation in perspective is to look at others who have been there. A recent article in the NY Times explores the trials of people who have been called back to 3, 4, 5, 6 and more follow-up interviews – yet are never offered a job. I actually found the comments section to be the most interesting part of the article. Scroll down to read the comments from people who share their job interview horror stories. Here’s a sample:

I was given a third interview at a major retailer and told to bring a strategic plan for a particular issue they were facing. I prepared this plan. On the day of the interview, I got horribly lost and called the interviewer to apologize and say that I would be late and being late is unacceptable and a terrible first impression, so it was completely okay if she did not want to interview me. She said it was okay and that I should come ahead anyway.

We had what I thought was a good interview. She told me about the next steps that I would be asked to take and who I would next interview with. She said she would call me next week.

Long story short, there was no fourth interview. When next we spoke, she told me she could not hire me because I had not prepared what she had asked for–and then named a completely different assignment that was never mentioned to me. And then added, “And you were late.”

Sometimes it helps to be reminded that even as you’re going through a stressful experience, someone else has gone through something worse – and came out the other side.

So hang in there, everybody. It will work out, and one day we will look back on all of this and have a good laugh (remember: comedy = tragedy + time).


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