By Scotty Stieber
The hunt for summer internships is in full swing, and those March 1st application deadlines are swiftly approaching.
The MSLCE cohort recently spent a Saturday in an interviewing workshop led by Amanda Schonfeld, a talent acquisition leader at VSA Partners, a design-based branding agency in Chicago. Students learned the ins and outs of the interview process, including how to prepare for an interview and how to appropriately follow-up with an employer.
Prior to her current role with VSA Partners, Amanda worked at marketing and consulting agency SapientNitro as a senior hiring manager. Building off her various experiences as a creative recruiter, Schonfeld recounted a number of positive and negative experiences, both as an interviewer and an interviewee. For example, while most people understand that punctuality is critical to making a great first impression, arriving too early can have an off-putting effect as well. At VSA, the administrative assistants receive a notification when a candidate checks in with the building’s security. An excessively early candidate can quickly become a hassle.
“It’s an awkward situation for the recruiter and the candidate,” Schonfeld says. “Grab a coffee and relax if you’re more than fifteen minutes early.”
After an interview, she recommends that candidates ask for a tour of the workplace. What are your potential coworkers like? Do they interact with each other a lot, or are they mostly working on their own? These social dynamics are important to consider, and you will not typically find this information on any website.
Following up isn’t just a form of courtesy; it helps a recruiter connect a specific detail or story to a candidate. With an enormous amount of competition for job opportunities, every word in a thank you email counts.
In the end, it can be easy to lose your self-worth in the midst of attaining a coveted job offer. Do not let this happen. Schonfeld cautioned students to be prepared to walk away from an employer if they feel they are being taken advantage of. It isn’t an easy thing to do, but you will go further in your career if you know your own value.