How to Get an Internship at Artsy—Part II
Last time, we discussed some of the small details to pay attention to in your internship application. Now it's time to take things in the opposite direction. This post provides some guidance around how to improve your application by thinking big.
Part II—Know Your Narrative
Your internship application will require plenty of detailed preparation, including the above recommendations. What might surprise you, however, is the amount of self-reflection that a well-conceived job application involves.
"Don’t go in without having done some serious self-reflection about what you’re looking for and what you’ve gotten out of previous internships."
One of the most valuable pieces of information we want to ascertain from candidates is the path you’re on. In other words, your future growth is important to us, and to understand your potential, we want to hear about your past growth. We want to hear your story!
This means that writing a cover letter or introductory email (engineers, check out the examples in this blog post) and preparing for interviews should always involve some serious introspection. Here are a few questions to guide this process, which you should be able to address clearly.
1. What have you done?
This question refers to your work experience, including where you’ve worked, what you did there, what skills you employed or developed, etc. You should be able to communicate a thorough picture of the projects you worked on during each of your past roles. This is the part of interviews that most people do well, and it’s also the point at which many candidates and interviewers mistakenly end their conversations.
2. Why did you do it?
We want to hear about your motivation. Why did you apply to your first internship? What were your expectations for that experience? If the answer to all this is, “I don’t know,” that’s okay! Be honest about your experience and concentrate on the next question.
3. What did you learn?
This is where we want you to really impress us. So much more important than where you’ve done an internship is what that internship taught you. Did you like it, and why? If it wasn’t your favorite, why not? We want to see that you are thinking critically about your work and where it’s guiding you. Another effective way to phrase this question is: “How did this experience change you?”
4. What do you want to do?
Apply your answer to Question 3 to your short-term and long-term goals. Based on what you’ve learned, what kind of work do you really want to do now? Be able to articulate how your current career goals are different from (or similar to) what they used to be.
5. Why do you want to do that?
This may be the most important question to answer. If you’re applying to an internship at Artsy, we’re really asking, “Why Artsy?” Why is our company in particular the right next (or first) step in your career? Why would you enjoy working with us? What about our mission compels you? Communicating the reason that you’re knocking on our door is a crucial part of your application.
Former interns Hibiki Mizuno, Andrew Wagner, and Joel Auerbach at Artsy HQ
Reflecting on these questions is a great step towards knowing your narrative—but you also have to communicate that narrative effectively! The good news is that doing so starts with two rules.
Your natural passions are your greatest assets when applying for an internship, and those will only come out if you’re being you. Being comfortable in your skin is the best way to build confidence. Plus, we want you to enjoy the interview process—and we genuinely want to get to know you!
“Treat interviews as a two-way-street. Don’t be afraid to turn interviews into a conversation and talk about your interests and ideas, even if they don’t relate specifically to the last ‘interview’ question that was asked."
Be Honest and Direct
One of Artsy’s core company values is Openness, and we take it very seriously. In one of the best interviews I’ve ever had, a candidate told me that one of her past positions was actually “a step backward in [her] career,” a sacrifice she accepted because of what a rare opportunity it was. Her honesty convinced me that she valued learning opportunities over her ego, and that she was willing to work really hard—and now we’re lucky to have her as a full-time member of the Artsy team.
Grayden Holubar is People Operations Manager at Artsy.net in New York. His primary mission is to help Artsy run smoothly and grow smartly. Gray graduated from Princeton University with a degree in art history; his thesis took a close look at contemporary and modern office architecture and its relationship to how we think about how we work. He has taught English in China, trained professionally in ballet and modern dance, and is a staunch supporter of the Oxford comma.
Keep up with Gray on LinkedIn!