Always Ask a Question: Alex’s Intern Journey

“So Alex, is there anything you would like to ask us?” – Me: “Err, no, that all sounds good to me.” That was the moment when my prospects of landing the Communications Intern job at Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) could have taken a disastrous turn.

Let me start from the beginning – my name is Alex Henderson, and I was born with an eye condition called Cone Dystrophy, making me partially sighted and a white cane user.

In the summer of 2019, I applied for an internship role within the Communications team at Thomas Pocklington Trust . I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t sure where my career was headed. It felt like I had been drifting aimlessly for some time.

The wave

Then, out of the blue, an email titled ‘New vacancy – Communications Internship Thomas Pocklington Trust’ arrived in my inbox from the TPT employment team. I remember this moment so well, because I had such a positive feeling about it, like a surfer who had been waiting for the right wave to come along. This was my wave!

I carefully reviewed the job description, making sure I understood what I was getting into. The more I read it, the more convinced I became that I had to go for it. While I was confident in my skills, I worried about my lack of prior communications experience. On the deadline day, I submitted my application.

A few days later, I received confirmation that my application was successful, and I was invited for an interview. It was at that moment that the reality set in, and nerves started to kick in.

The interview

Before the interview, I had committed to a week of volunteering at an event by VICTA, where I had the privilege of meeting VICTA’s CEO, Nick Schofield. When I mentioned my upcoming interview to him, he shared invaluable advice about CV writing, job searching, and, most importantly, interviews. It felt like another timely wave helping me on my journey.

From my conversation with Nick, I learned two significant things: 1) Preparation for the interview is crucial, and 2) the answers you provide to interview questions don’t have to relate solely to work; they can come from experiences outside of employment.

Armed with this newfound insight, I researched competency questions and considered both work and personal experiences to provide the best possible answers.

When the big day arrived, I was nervous but confident. I had learned that feeling nervous is life’s way of signalling that something exciting is just around the corner, and you need to keep pushing forward to reach it.

The interview process started with a 45-minute written assessment. I used a PC with ZoomText magnification software, which was challenging because I was accustomed to working in a different setup and conditions. The pressure of meeting a tight deadline with the clock ticking added to the challenge.

Following the assessment, the interview began. This was when my preparation paid off. I focused on staying attentive, listening carefully to the questions, and then providing concise answers that showcased my abilities and told a story. However, the final question was the only one I hadn’t prepared for.

“So Alex, is there anything you would like to ask us?” My mind went blank, and for once, I couldn’t think of a single thing to say, except, “Err, no, that all sounds good to me.”

I know you might be thinking I made a huge mistake at that point. But in my defence, I was relieved to have made it through the interview, genuinely excited about the job role, and just didn’t have any questions at that moment. However, I should have asked something!

On my way home, I replayed the interview in my head, feeling like I had done well but uncertain if it was enough to secure the job.

The call

A few days later, on a warm Monday afternoon, I received a phone call. When my phone displayed the caller’s name, a wave of nerves mixed with excitement washed over me. I answered the call, and the news was fantastic – I got the job!

Now, I’m in my fourth month as a Communications Intern at Thomas Pocklington Trust. It’s incredible to think about everything that has happened since then, how much I’ve learned, how much I’ve grown, and how much fun I’ve had. There was even a day when I spent hours in the office with soaking wet socks, but that’s a story for another time. I’ve had moments of doubt but also times of great pride in my accomplishments.

Who knows where this wave will take me next!

Always ask a question

So, here we are at the end of my story, but we’ve circled back to the beginning. A few weeks into my internship, I learned that I came very close to not getting the job at all.

Why? Because I didn’t ask a question at the end of the interview.

So, my parting advice to you is this: always, always, always ask at least one question at the end of a job interview. It could make all the difference!

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