Think Tank Researcher-in-Training

Writing about Latin America and living in our nation's capital.

Some Exciting News and Some Interview Tips

Things at COHA have been going well so far. This post is going to seem a little bit scattered, but I want to talk about what I’ve been doing so far at COHA, what the expectations of the interns are, and also give some more detailed interview tips, since my last post was a bit lacking in that department.

First off, the interns at COHA are the muscles of the non-profit. We run administrative tasks, as well conducting research that is guaranteed to be published either on the COHA website  www.coha.org) or on our subscription-only publication, the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, or WRH. This, however, does not mean that it’s easy to get things published. Each article, no matter the length, goes through a minimum of five rounds of edits, though oftentimes there are six or seven rounds. COHA has a very strict style of writing that needs to be adhered to, and each piece is also subjected to rigorous fact checking, so that we can be assured that each and every article published under COHA’s domain is one we can all be proud of. I’m currently going through my first round of edits on a research piece about Conditional Cash Transfer programs in Brazil and Mexico. I’m also working on co-authoring an op-ed about the current state of the revolts in Brazil, and what that means both socially and politically for that nation.

But before any intern works on a research piece, he or she must write a letter to the editor. This is a sort of rite of passage for any cohista, and even these short pieces are put through the five rounds of edits. I wrote a letter to the editor of Diario las Américas, a Miami-based Spanish speaking newspaper. The letter I wrote was in response to an article in which the author questions whether or not the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, will comply with Ecuador’s constitution and leave office after his term as president is over, or if he will try to change the constitution, so that he can re-run. After writing my article, I sent it to the newspaper, not really expecting a response. However, to my delight, my letter to the editor was published, and can be seen here: http://www.diariolasamericas.com/noticia/156934/46/cartas-al-director . (That was my part about the exciting news!)

With regard to successful interviewing, here are some tips that I’ve accumulated by listening to the advice of others, and through my own experience.

  • Make sure you dress the part. I firmly believe that a good interview outfit can make or break an interview. Not only will the interviewer be judging you based upon your appearance (It’s only natural!), but looking your best will help you to feel more confident. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Confidence is key. No matter how nervous you are, try not to act it. It helps if you’ve done extensive research on the organization, so you’ll know what you’re talking about and be able to ask intelligent questions at the end of the interview. And even if you don’t feel confident, fake it until you make it, to use a trite phrase. The organization wants to hire the best interns possible, so it’s your job to convince the interviewer that you are the best intern possible! (Even if you’re not sure that you are.) Play up your strengths during the interview and make sure that you convey how your strengths would make a positive impact at the organization.
  • But don’t oversell it. Interviewers are going to be able to tell if you’re lying. Play up your strengths, but don’t stretch the truth or lie about what you’re capable of. Even if you get away with it during the interview, it’s going to be pretty obvious you lied about a skill if when you get to the job, you can’t perform to the level you had previously boasted you were able to.
  • Anticipate the obvious questions. I have never once been interviewed without being asked, “So tell me about yourself.” And, trust me, there is nothing more nerve-wracking than realizing you haven’t prepared an answer to this inevitable question. (Oops.)

Hopefully these tips help! If you have any more questions or just want to learn more about COHA, feel free to comment below!

Hasta la próxima,

Nicole





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