The 6 stages of freaking out for an internship–and how to overcome them.

Internships. I feel like they’re this mysterious, unearthly opportunity that no one really tells us how to deal with—or how to prepare. Sure, there’s the basics, like research the company—but even that isn’t fool-proof (trust me). So, from me to you, here’s my 6 stages of freaking out for an internship interview:  what to expect to experience, and how you can hopefully overcome it.

Stage 1: Excitement

You get that phone call or reply email. Your jaw will most likely drop at this point, and—if you’re like me—you will be highly likely to do some kind of embarrassing happy dance. Possibly in public. Like on a bus. Or a Telstra shop.  Geez, guys; no need for those questioning looks. Enjoy this stage. Let it empower you and propel you into action.

I’m sooooo excited. And I just can’t hide it! Image via Lead Changes.

Stage 2: Intensive research

And I mean intensive research. Possibly to the point of being slightly creepy (I’d rather call it thorough). First, there’s the obvious stuff. What is the company? Who are their main players? What’s their mission statement? Have they won awards? Who started the company? When? Why?  Then there’s the less-obvious stuff; like Twitter feeds and examples of the company’s work. Get a feel for them. And then there’s the really less-obvious stuff. For one particular internship interview, I was asked general knowledge questions like: who is the Lord Mayor of Wollongong? Of Shellharbour? Who coaches the Illawarra Dragons? Really? I mean, come on. Expect the unexpected.

Stage 3: Fear

Mind-numbing, underwear-wetting, bone-chilling fear. You realise the magnitude of the opportunity before you and subsequently proceed to shit your pants (not literally—I hope). This is the stage where your self-doubt will inevitably trickle in. For me, this is mainly about how my so-called “lack of confidence”. The thing is, no one ever actually tells you how to be confident, and anxiety only amplifies this issue. So what are you supposed to do? I force myself to do things that make me afraid. This can be as small as exploring a new part of the city, or giving a presentation. If this fails, try taking some natural remedies to calm your nerves—like St John’s Wort (though this can interfere with the contraceptive pill), Rescue Remedy, or even smelling some calming essential oils, like lavender or rose. It’s probably best if you don’t resort to alcohol. I repeat: do not do this. Abort mission.  Have faith!

Stage 4: Change

Obviously, you want to look fabulous, right? Well, don’t do what I did; that is, spend oodles of money. Learn from my mistakes! I ventured into David Jones with the best of intentions, and ended up spending more than I’ll admit—but now I’m not even sure I’ll wear the professional dress I purchased. I can’t help but think: is it possible to look too professional? Should I dress for comfort, instead? Surely, a killer pair of heels and accessories would take away from any mistakes made with the dress! What do I do with my nails?

But then, I think: well, I want to look really good in whatever I wear—I’m actually going to go to the gym, every day! WRONG. I want my skin to look nice and clear. Oh, what’s that, face? You’re going to pick now to have a massive break out? Yeah. Thanks so much—it’s not like I spend hundreds of dollars on you each year. And I also want to have some sweet eyebrows. Whoops! Plucked a wrong hair. Aaaaaand now I look strange. Oh god, oh god, oh god.

These are all very important questions, and my best advice is to wear what makes you comfortable, as well as classy. Be neat and well-groomed. Don’t make unrealistic expectations of yourself. Remember, who you are is more important than what you look like. And whatever you choose, own it like the rock star you are.

Image via Reymond Communications.

Stage 5: The Pep Talk

By this, I mean a lot of talking to yourself. Practise your responses and facial expressions to potential questions. Write them down, if you have to: memorise them, recite them. That way, you’re less likely to be caught out looking like a tongue-tied, incoherent fool. But make sure you’re at the right place for this—I tend to let my mind wander on public transport, talking to myself without sound. You should see the downright hilarious and mystified looks I get. Whoops.

Stage 6: The Final Countdown

It’s a combination of each stage. You can’t help but think: am I prepared enough? How can I show initiative? Does this dress make me look fat? If I have red nails (red, a power colour), will they judge me? Would it show confidence, or just make me seem cocky?

Put your mind at ease. You wouldn’t have secured an interview if they didn’t see something awesome in you—let that shine. Just like when you know you’re ready to ace an exam, you know you’re ready to totally ace an interview. Do your research, look professional, show them who you are. What can you do for the company? What can they do for you? Why should they choose you? Simple—you’re awesome, and you’re prepared.

Now go get ‘em, tiger!