When I received an email invitation to interview for an insurance company internship, I was thrilled. All I was looking for was an “in” at any insurance firm. I knew once I was there it would be easier to switch divisions within the same firm, rather than to start new at a firm after graduation.
So, I traveled to the office of the firm and did the typical pre-interview routine. I checked my breath, made sure I looked well put together, turned off my cellphone, and entered the office twenty minutes early. I kindly told the receptionist that I was here for an interview and she phoned the interviewer right away. I waited in the receptionist area for a few minutes trying to figure out what to do. They say the interview begins the second you walk into the door, so I sat there trying to maintain perfect posture and a poised position. There were a few magazines on a side table, so I decided to read one of them. I knew I could not just sit there for eight minutes straight twiddling my thumbs.
After some time, the interviewer came to meet me. She walked me into a small conference room and we sat down across from each other. We discussed the ins and outs of the company, my daily tasks as an intern, my goals, my family, and my hobbies. The interview mediated between formal and informal discussions; I knew she was just trying to get a feel for my personality. We even discussed our similar interests, and by the end of the interview I knew it had went well.
A few weeks later, I get an email asking me to come in for a second interview with one of the regional directors for the internship program. I graciously scheduled the second interview and a few weeks later made my way down to the insurance office again for the video conference call interview. I met my first interviewer again and she led me into a bigger conference room with a large television at one end. She set up the call and left me in this huge room by myself waiting for the regional director to arrive in his video conference room. Again, I sat there trying to keep myself from twiddling my thumbs.
When the director arrived, he helped me set up the monitor so I could view him in a better frame and relayed to me that the interview would not take long. He then proceeded to introduce himself and explain what his job was and what his role would be during my internship if I were accepted as an intern. As the interview went on, I was asked the usual questions: “What are your strength and weaknesses,” “Why would you like to intern with us,” and “What are you looking for in an internship?” I proceeded to relay the answers that I had rehearsed so perfectly in the mirror.
About one hour into this interview, he finally asked “How do you deal with stress in a hectic environment?” Looking back, I do not remember what I replied, but I remember it was wrong. This “short interview” was an hour and twenty minutes long. To me, this meant that he could not decide whether or not I was right for the position. After an hour of staring at this screen, I was numb. How did I deal with stress? My brain racked up some concise answer. However, as the words left my mouth, it just felt like the wrong reply.
A few weeks later, I found out that I did not get the internship. I was not completely upset about it because it was not directly in the actuarial science field, but it was something I wanted. Not getting this internship meant I needed to work harder to pass these preliminary exams in order to start anew at a firm and that is a goal I continue to work towards even now.