This week Steph Gallo, director of career planning for the College of Arts and Sciences, shared some insight and pieces of advice for students, in regard to virtual interviews and internships. Gallo knows how difficult this time can be for students, so she is here to offer all the help she can to Fairfield University students. 

“If you embrace the idea of a virtual internship, there are a lot of opportunities,” Gallo said. 

She knows that virtual internships can be daunting to those who have never had an internship before, but cannot stress enough how important it is to keep an open mind. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States so abruptly, no one really had time to adjust back in March. While internships changed drastically over the summer, with many being rescinded, more and more companies have now shifted online, embracing the idea of virtual internships because they know work still needs to be done. 

Overall, there has been a slight dip in the number of internships students are receiving. Gallo has noticed this slight decrease and expressed that there are a number of factors contributing to it. It is important to realize that this dip is not due to companies not hiring, but more so due to college students not knowing what to do.

Many college students who are living on their university’s campus fear they have no space in which to conduct their virtual internships, as some students are confined to their dorm rooms, which are shared with a roommate(s). 

Now, more than ever, is a great time for colleges to consider becoming a bit more creative and introducing rooms that could be designated for students to use specifically for virtual interviews and internships. 

Here at Fairfield, the Aloysius P. Kelley Center has interview rooms that have been made available to students, as well as designated rooms in the library. Any student who would like to reserve a room in the library for a virtual interview can do so by calling (203) 254-4081.   

One of the leading factors seen in this recent decrease of student internships is money. There has been a decrease in paid internships, which has led to an issue of equity, as some students cannot afford to take on unpaid internships. 

Gallo also shared how Fairfield U has not been able to offer its students as many opportunities to receive internships at companies such as NBC Sports, like the University has been able to in previous years. Fairfield used to have a leg up on companies like NBC Sports, located in New York City, during the school year. Representatives from NBC Sports would come on campus to speak with students and award them internships that they could complete during the school year. This year the University was not able to do that. 

As Gallo pointed out during the interview, there is much more competition among Fairfield students when it comes to internships this year. Normally, the only competition Fairfield students have are with students at neighboring schools – this has since changed due to the majority of internships being done remotely.

Students now have to compete with others throughout the entire country for remote internships. However, this can also be seen as something beneficial to students. Having virtual internships allows for students to apply for one anywhere in the country. As Gallo stated, “this is the flipside: students are no longer limited to companies in their surrounding areas.” 

Gallo has no doubt in her mind that students will continue to receive internships. 

“Interns serve as a very important purpose to companies, creating a pipeline of talent that companies need,” said Gallo. 

When it comes to the interviewing process, Gallo stressed how important it is to nail all interviews. She also explained how not all virtual interviews are conducted the same way, which is something all students should keep in mind and for which they should be prepared. 

The first way a virtual interview can be conducted is via video chat platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet. The second way a virtual interview can be conducted is through a pre-recorded interview that you must send into the company. With these types of interviews you must have concise answers, as you are only given approximately 30 seconds to prepare your answer and one minute to actually answer. 

Gallo encourages all students who are interested in applying for virtual internships to take a look at Interview Stream. Interview Stream allows students to practice recorded interviews. Fairfield gives all of its students access to this platform.

“It is the best interview prep tool the University has access to,” said Gallo. 

It is important for students to remember to smile at the camera during virtual interviews, as the camera serves as the person in this situation. Always be prepared to answer behavioral questions, and reflect on what you have done in the past to make yourself the best candidate for any internship. 

“Make employers not want to let you go, become an expert in something, become indispensable…do your work so well that they can’t imagine work without you,” said Gallo. 

This last piece of advice Gallo gave is something all students should keep in the back of their minds when they are working any job or internship. Everyone fears how they can remain good at their job or internship, but as long as tasks are completed with perfection and done to the utmost degree, you will have nothing to worry about.

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