Penny Loretto: What do you look for in an internship applicant?
Maureen Tryon: Nordstrom's is currently growing rapidly and continually seeks enthusiastic people who are excited and want to grow with the company. Interns coming into the organization should take the experience seriously. Students who keep up with current trends and seek to learn more about the company as well as the industry will be much more likely to be considered for full-time employment at the completion of their internship.
Penny: How important is the initial resume and cover letter and what advice do you have for applicants when preparing these documents?
Nordstrom’s actually does their applications online. Students are required to complete an online profile which actually feeds the information from their college resume. A student’s resume is going to be the first impression the company gets of a student so it’s very important that past experiences, jobs, etc., are included with full descriptions of each experience that’s relevant. Cover letters are not required but students do have the opportunity to attach one. If a student does attach a cover letter, it will be reviewed and will be included in the student’s record. Nordstrom's receives approximately 900 internship applicants each year.
Penny: In your opinion what can make or break an interview?
Maureen: Our interview process, the student’s profile, completion of the online assessment, all have a tremendous bearing on whether a student will be hired or not. We receive thousands of applications each year and we use these steps to weed out applicants.
A phone interview is the next step once applicants have been selected. From there students may go on to a person-to-person interview or a panel where they will be asked a series of questions. We look for those applicants who shine and are self-motivated leaders who possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills that will help to build positive customer relationships for the company.
Penny: What makes for a successful intern?
Maureen: For me it's always going to be interns who are eager, show initiative, possess good sales skills and people who are open to learning, set goals, competitive, comfortable putting themselves out there and continually are involved in networking, exploring opportunities, and looking out see what’s going to be available to them.
Penny: What deadly mistakes have you seen interns make during their internship experience?
Maureen: The biggest mistakes I see is when our interns take an opportunity for 9 weeks and they don't view the internship as the beginning of a career, they don't make any personal and professional connections, and they basically just go through the motions and view the experience as just a part-time summer job.
Penny: How important do you perceive the relationship between the employer and the university for an internship to be successful?
Maureen: We view our university partners as crucial to the overall success of our program. When working closely with campuses and college career centers we are ensure of getting quality students to fill our internship slots. Johnson & Wales has a phenomenal program and they always go above and beyond.) We value our university partners and by closely working together we are able to offer students learning experiences that will prepare them well for the real world.
Penny: Any advice on what interns can do to better their chances of getting hired if a full-time position comes available within the organization?
Maureen: As students go through the internship program, they will want to focus on learning as much as they can. How well a student performs on the job is really the first part of any interview. To get hired as a full-time employee with the organization, students must use this internship opportunity as a chance perform to the highest of their ability. Asking questions, networking, and keeping in touch once the internship is over are definite things a student wants to do if they are hoping to be considered for a future full-time job opening. Juniors may work hard in order to be accepted the following year as an intern but upcoming seniors will most likely be seeking full-time employment after graduating from college.
Penny: What may preclude a student from getting hired?
Maureen: We get so many applications that if an intern doesn’t stand out, they may get lost in the shuffle. We can usually tell from the interview and paperwork how a student will perform the job. We seek students who are prepared, professional, goal driven and self-motivated.
Maureen’s Final Tips:
Our internships have been a great program for us. We enjoy finding interested students who excel in their performance and see Nordstrom’s as home. Our internship program runs June through August and each year our successful interns make up a large number of our new hires.