Watch out New York, here comes Justin!

Published July 2019

Written by Justin Cho, Innovation Academy Student

Edited by Yesi B. Sevilla, IA Assistant Director

When I first applied to my internship, I did not expect to hear back from anyone due to its high volume of applicants. After patiently waiting for two weeks, I was notified that I passed the first round and that I was required to do a video interview to be considered for the next round, so I suited up from the waist up and began answering questions given a certain time limit.

While answering the questions that were prompted on the screen, I realized that I was being too safe, too “textbook”. So, instead of telling them what they expected to hear, I decided to answer the questions in a way that would have emulated my personality: a competitive yet passionate individual. I risked it. I risked my opportunity to intern for one of the highest ranked production companies in the world, but it was all worth it, because that is what the company valued: diversity, passion, inclusivity, personality, etc. I learned that although being professional is very important in presenting oneself, I also learned that showing who you are as a person wins them over, since that is what makes you apparent from others.

After finishing the video interview, I was notified that I would be contacted by the recruiting team whether or not I would pass onto the next round.

Shortly after about a week, I was notified that I had passed the second round and that I would have my resume, cover letter, and video interview personally delivered to the specific department that I would be working for.

After having the recruiting team look over my work, experience, and video interview, I was notified that I had passed the third round. Shortly after, I received an email saying that I had moved onto the fourth and final round, which were in-person interviews. They offered phone-call interviews to anyone that was limited to travel (out-of-state), but I took this opportunity to show my passion and commitment to this position, so I flew out a week later to New York to meet the team.

To be completely honest, I spent way more money than I should have for this interview, but it encouraged me to kill this interview, and that’s exactly what I did. Once I had the opportunity to fly out and meet the team, I did my research of course: on the recruiting team, and the overall history of the company. The recruiting manager that I had been in contact with mentioned that they knew that I was capable of doing the job, but they wanted to get a feel of who I was, and whether or not I would have been a perfect fit to the team.

Obvious questions popped up during the interview such as:

  1. Why their company?
  2. Walk us through of how you dealt with a failure.
  3. What are three qualities an intern should have?

I went forward and expanded on my experiences - what I had achieved, my background within the Innovation Academy, and what my current passions were. The recruiter took interest in my minor specifically and it definitely helped me to answer the question: “Why should we hire you out of all of the applicants?” I took advantage of my status as an Innovation Academy student to emphasis how I was able to gain knowledge in teamwork, leadership, creative thinking, and entrepreneurship - and apply these skills to my everyday life while the other applicants were still in the process of honing that craft. Especially in this industry of production and creativity, I believe that my minor helped me tremendously.

Everything was going very well, but something very interesting happened towards the end of the interview. She pulled my resume and pointed out my “interests” section at the bottom of the page:

“Interests: boba, hiking, French bread, reverse parking”

She asks, “So why reverse parking?” That is when I took the opportunity to show the sassy and comedic side of myself. As I spoke more about my expertise in the field of reverse parking, the recruiter and I couldn’t stop laughing for a good 5 minutes - just discussing my interests with this certain subject. That is when I knew that I killed the interview, giving every single detail of myself, my experiences, and my knowledge of the company - ending it with my classic comedic sass, a cherry on top.

I was "TAing" for a class when I got the email. I saw the first word, “Congratulations” and I couldn’t scream in front of my students, so I laid on the floor and quietly whispered to myself, “I did it”.

I learned so much just from the interview process, and it makes me even more excited for what is to come during the actual internship!

Tips from my experience:

A couple tips I would give to anyone that is looking for internship, going into an interview, or anything!

  1. Be yourself/Make yourself apparent from others.
  2. Connect with current interns or professionals in your specific field.
  3. Work hard! Opportunities aren’t just handed to you, get out there and make some magic!
  4. Professionalism is important, but don’t be afraid to give a little tablespoon of your personality.
  5. Use your minor to your advantage. You are in the Innovation Academy, a program that offer very important skills that can be applied to any occupation, USE IT!!!
  6. Start reverse parking (metaphor). Who knows? Maybe the 5 minutes of laughter will help pull your application to the “yes” pile.


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