How I Found An Internship With No Prior Experience

By: Eshani Pareek

Before I began graduate studies at Rutgers, I never truly understood the value of a good resume. I also never considered how everything ranging from my body language, to my dress, to my facial expressions, matters so much when seeking a position in the professional world. The MBS courses I have taken have been eye-openers, but no experience in the MBS has taught me as my much as my quest to pursue an internship in biotechnology with no prior experience in the industry. The magnitude of the internship search, I learned, was something that only becomes evident when you come to it.

Being an international student, I faced the added challenge of being rejected by companies that do not hire international candidates. Everyone around me was struggling, filling up 20 applications a day, searching frantically for every available opportunity on a dozen different job search portals. I believe that this is a phase that we all go through until we calm our nerves a little and start to think about what our calling may be. For me, this streamlined my thought process to a great extent, and the focus of my search shifted from “finding AN internship” to “finding THE internship.”

It may be true that as entry-level professionals, we cannot really be picky about opportunities, but it wouldn’t hurt to target all the right ones first. Once I had my conviction in place, I applied an application regimen that I had developed- sending at least 3 per day. Add to that the communication with alumni on LinkedIn, or with recruiters- who may or may not reply owing to their full-to-the-brim inboxes during the internship season. I got a lot of automated rejections, each one sparking my hope when I saw the email, and smothering it as soon as I saw the “thank you for applying to our firm” as the opening statement. The key here is to not give up in the face of adversity, and keep at it.

I got a few positive responses, and then the key was just to regularly follow-up with the recruiter on the progress of the application, and schedule interviews. Frankly speaking, I did not prepare much for the behavioral part of the interview, but with each passing interview, my answers improved. There was more clarity of thought in what I was saying, even though the content remained the same. As Professor Cashman says in class, “presentation really matters!” The last firm I interviewed with, where I am finally interning- I appeared for a total of 4 interviews in two different departments. I remember walking out of the final interview feeling really happy and proud of myself. The happiness was not because I thought I had aced the interview, which I believe now that I did, but of having improved so much over time.

Finding an internship was not an easy task, but now that I look back, it is undoubtedly one of the most significant self-improvement journeys that I have been on- I figured out how to be the best version of me, and more importantly, how to present the best version of me. While I am sure I will enjoy my work, what I am excited about even more is the chance to become just a little better. As President Obama said in his commencement speech here at Rutgers, “better is good.”