The Intern Diaries : Interviewing with a CEO

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Kristina Saha is a rising senior at Barnard College of Columbia University majoring in computer science and taking on the combination track within the computer science department at Columbia  which combine her computer science courses with a foundational art history curriculum. 

She’s  been a part of the Built By Girls community for the last five years first as a BBG Challenge finalist, then as a WAVE advisee, and now a writer for the BUILT BY GIRLS  blog!

Kristina is the latest intern to write for our latest blog series, The Intern Diaries, is all about real world experiences from members of our own community.

Interviewing with Verizon Media's CEO

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I’m interning at my dream company, Verizon Media, as a strategy intern for the Executive Suite (basically a fancier way of saying that I work directly alongside the CEO’s team.) Now this may seem scary and in some ways quite Devil Wears Prada-esque. However, when I applied for the position, I knew that this was exactly something that I wanted to do and that my skill set would be enhanced because of the experiences that I was going to have. 

When HR reached out to me saying that they wanted me to come into the office in the next few days and speak with the CEO, I remember the heavy weight that fell onto my shoulders. Not only was it the first time I would be interviewing with ANY higher up of a company, mind you my DREAM company, but it was the first time that I would be interviewing for a CEO. The person who runs the company. The Godfather. THE BIG BOSS.

I knew I couldn’t give up on this opportunity and thus I began an intensive process of preparing myself for the interview in just two days. So what did I do and what can you do if you were in the same position?


PREPARATION

Find out all you can about them.First, I checked out his LinkedIn and ask myself:

  • What did he study?

  • Where did he go to college?

  • What positions did he have before being CEO of a company?

Then, I Googled him to see if there are any recent articles about his accomplishments. Turns out, it’s never a boring week in the life of a CEO!

Leverage any inside connections.

Given BUILT BY GIRLS is under Verizon Media, I was positive that there would be someone who would be able to give me more advice on the interview process with higher-ups. I reached out to someone on the team and was advised to research small details about the company itself.

  • What is this company doing that is of interest to me?

  • What has the company done recently that caught my interest?

  • What are some initiatives that the company is taking on that I find interesting?

Having answers to these questions will most definitely make one seem like an eager candidate for the position amongst others who are also interviewing for the same spot.


THE INTERVIEW 

Although I knew enough about the CEO and the company at this point to speak properly and efficiently, the biggest challenge I faced when getting ready in the morning of the interview was finding my voice. I felt as if my personality flew out the window. I remember questioning my abilities and even shaking at the thought of looking at a CEO in the eye. That’s when my friend told me something that I want to pass on to everyone. Remember to TRUST.

Take a moment to breathe.

Remember your goals.

Understand why you were chosen.

Smile.

Trust yourself.

I breathed because everything was going to be okay. I remembered that I was extremely close to getting my dream job. I understood that there was a reason why I was chosen to speak with the CEO of a company—one can barely schedule a one-on-one with a CEO, period. I kept a smile on my face and most importantly, I trusted my instincts when I walked through the doors and into the CEO’s office.

Rather than getting into details, here are my three takeaway points about interviewing with a higher up—whether it be a CEO or not.

  1. It’s the same as interviewing with any other professional. Keep yourself knowledgeable, show your eagerness to learn, and have questions you want answers to!

  2. Find and express commonalities and highlight how your experience aligns with the higher up. After all, they are human and it is always a plus if you can relate to the people you are working with.

    • For me, VZM’s CEO and I both have backgrounds in Computer Science and have connections with BUILT BY GIRLS. We were able to have a conversation about the ways tech is evolving and the different initiatives the company can take in their efforts in 5G. 

  3. Don’t feel like you need to know the answer to every question. Take your time if you need to give it a thought. The higher up will respect that you’re thinking before talking rather than if you were to give a random, not efficient answer. 

Lastly, you’ve got this! You are your own strength, don’t let any opportunity bring you down.


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