An Interview With the Director at the Seriously Amazing Smithsonian
It’s that time of the semester again where students are actively searching and applying for one thing: internships. You want one that not only challenges you on a daily basis, but one that can be used as a potential stepping stone to the career you dream about. So what do you have to do? What makes you stand out? And how can you make your resume land on the interview pile?
Eric Woodard, Director of the Office of Fellowships and Internships for the Smithsonian Institution, gave us a few pointers on landing an internship with The Smithsonian:
- How to stand out
- Why you should want to stand out
- How to handle the interview
- The secret to what most organizations/employers are looking for
First: Land the interview with a memorable resume
It starts with tailoring your resume.
Woodard says your resume should be telling a story.
A story that is completely tailored to the company you are applying for. Everything in your resume should have a purpose and the purpose needs to be sharp.
“If you are general, you are replaceable,” Woodard said simply.
He means when it comes to resumes, you need to not only be specific but also explain why what you have done is important. Your bullet points have to be results driven. Give the result, then the action then tell them why it is important. That last step will put your resume in the interview pile.
Second: How to ace the interview
Don’t stress. Woodward says the best way to enter an interview is with a predetermined message.
“If you go into an interview situation knowing what message you want to deliver, regardless of what you’re asked, you will be impressive.”
“Obviously be respectful of the questions, but use the question as a platform to give an answer you want to,” Woodard said.
Impress an interviewer with having your mind focused on a specific career point. Don’t just say I am interested in a broad subject. It’s more powerful to say you are interested in a particular aspect of something. For instance, saying you are obsessed with the history of the Constitution or aviation in WWII shows your focus, and it may even help them place you in the right department. Demonstrate how you have a track record of this interest and are actively working to build career capital in that area.
Third: Make the internship beneficial to the company and yourself
Mentors at the Smithsonian take their time seriously. They make real investments in those that they mentor and it is important to them that their investment is going to pay off.
Don’t waste your time or your mentor’s time. Show the organization they made the right decision by choosing you for this internship. Step out of your box and find ways to connect with the different people you will meet. Networking during your internship is crucial for future career moves. Take the internship seriously and a good mentor will take their relationship with you seriously. Here’s a link to the Intern office
So there you have it. Three simple steps to landing an internship with The Smithsonian—or any other organization for that matter!
A little about Ed Woodward from his Smithsonian Bio
First coming to Washington, D.C., as an intern, Woodard held a variety of jobs in the city. During the Clinton Administration, Woodard was Office Manager to the First Lady and later served as Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Special Assistant and Scheduler during her tenure as U.S. Senator. At both the White House and in the Senate, Woodard designed and managed a variety of programs for both interns and fellows. Woodard also authored “Your Last Day of School: 56 Ways You Can Be a Great Intern and Turn Your Internship into a Job” and a popular blog. He hosted a weekly internet radio show about internships.