Interviewing, Explained

by Katie Fleming

Flights to interviews can be long – make sure you pack some things to do!

Interviewing for graduate school, internships, or jobs is terrifying, and you are not alone in feeling super nervous about your upcoming interview! I have been interviewed both in person and via skype for internships, jobs, and graduate school positions, and I have a few tips to help you feel more prepared before you meet your future employer or step foot on your future school’s campus!

The best interviews take place in warm places during winter!

The first thing you should do prior to an interview is research the position or school. You should know what is going to be required of you before you accept your interview! You also want to start thinking of questions you may have for your interviewer. Take note of the business’ or school’s motto or central statement, as well as the “special something” the position or school is offering you (such as a unique program at a school or state of the art facilities at a new job). Make sure you bring this “special something” up so your interviewer knows 1) you did your research and 2) you are excited about an aspect of the position they probably also love!

Next, start looking up practice questions! If you are applying to a graduate program, google your school and program and “interview questions.” When I was interviewing for vet school, the Student Doctor Network provided me lots of information regarding not only possible questions, but also information on what I should expect throughout the entire day.

Get some rest on your night flights but also make sure you take in some views (aka Phoenix looks pretty).

Start making lists of the experiences and jobs you have had throughout your college career, including jobs, internships, challenging classes, student organizations, research, etc. Once you have a list of your experiences, start answering the questions you find online. Look through all your experiences and decide which one is the best for a specific question. For example, the extremely common question, “describe an experience in which you were challenged,” could be answered by discussing a club you were in, but maybe discussing a challenging class would encompass more of the ideals the school or position idealizes (compare your answer with their central statement)!

Bring a family member along if you can and explore the area!

If you are struggling with eloquently expressing the answers to your questions, think about using the STAR response. STAR stands for “Situation, Task, Actions, Response.” Every time you are asked a question, listen carefully to what they are asking and then think through your STAR response. For example, if I was asked, “When have you made a mistake and what were your actions after it occurred?” I would respond by describing my situation (in my research laboratory), discussing my task (the specific experiment I was conducting and my mistake), what actions I took (how I went about fixing my mistake), and my final response (how I will avoid making the same mistake in the future).

No one would have ever guessed I went back to Boston.

Finally, the night before, make sure you get plenty of rest (I’m sure you have never heard that before) and eat a decent breakfast. If you are nervous, you want to make sure you do not pass out! Set multiple alarms, confirm all your travel plans, and make sure you pack your business professional suit and portfolio! Right before your actual interview, head to the bathroom for a few minutes and do a power pose (hands confidently on your hips or arms held high) for a few minutes. Then, go nail your interview!

In the days following, make sure you send your interviewers a thank you email! Try to ensure you write to every person you interviewed with that day. If you do not know your interviewers’ names (I did not know some of my interviewer’s names because we did multiple mini interviews that were impersonal), email the admissions department and any coordinators who oversaw your day. Remind them of something fun or interesting you discussed in your interview, so they remember who you are! After all this, you are for sure going to get into your dream school or position. Stay hydrated, wear deodorant, brush your teeth, and make sure you enjoy your interview day!


Honors Research: 2018 International Studies Association Midwest Conference

by Derek Thada

View from my room on the 15th floor of the Hilton by the Ballpark hotel

Like many First-Year Honors students, I was interested in doing undergraduate research. After being matched in November with my mentor, Dr. Olga Chyzh, we began working on our project, “Understanding Location Choice for Subsidiaries of Multinational Firms”, in January of 2018. I recently presented our project at the 2018 International Studies Association Midwest Conference in St. Louis. My experience at the conference was impactful to both my personal and professional development. Personally, my confidence in speaking in front of large audiences increased tremendously. Specifically, the positive feedback I received from professors I had never met before meant a lot. Professionally, I was able to meet and network with several professors from around the country and learn about their graduate programs.

International Studies Association banner in front of check-in

Prior to attending the conference, I was unsure as to whether I would pursue graduate school. In attending the conference and having such a positive experience, I have been more open to the idea of attending graduate school. Overall, my research experience and trip to St. Louis would not have been possible without my involvement in the First-Year Honors Mentor Program.

Allye Looks Back

by Allye Bodholdt

The end of the semester is finally here. For many of you, that means four weeks of break, relaxation, and holiday celebrations before returning to campus in January. For me, it means graduation! It’s hard to believe that my time at Iowa State is coming to a close already. It’s been an amazing adventure filled with unforgettable moments- becoming an intramural champion, leading an FHP section, camping out for basketball games, working in the Athletic Department, presenting my Honors Capstone Project, the list goes on and on. Some of the greatest memories from my time at Iowa State are highlighted in the pictures below. Thanks to everyone who was a part of my journey, and best of luck to those of you returning in January!

Things I Would Do Differently If I Was A First-Year Honors Student Again

by Sam Schreck

1. Get out of your comfort zone

Meeting new people is one of the best things about college. I wish I had introduced myself to random people more often. It could be as easy as poking your head in someone’s open dorm room or sitting down at a random lunch table. Making conversation with different people is how friendships will eventually develop. It might be awkward, but it will be worth it to work on your conversational skills.

2. Read every email from Iowa State

There are so many opportunities that I missed out on because I never actually read through every email I received on CyMail. Just reading the subject is not enough sometimes. There are so many awesome opportunities you might have no idea about. I recommend cleaning through all of the emails you have not read at least once a week so you don’t miss any deadlines.

3. Go to more HSB events

Iowa State Honors Program has many different events that are organized on a weekly basis. I never really took advantage of these fun opportunities. Things like trivia, ice skating, and awkward prom are all put together very well. It is just another one of many opportunities to do something new and meet amazing people.

Side note: Not living in honors housing is also one of my grave mistakes. I hear so many fun stories about the awesome things that go on in the floors and clusters. They definitely did some crazy/fun events and games that I wish I participated in.

4. Go to as many different club meetings as you can

There are hundreds of clubs at Iowa State. Some are more seriously involved in your major, and others are just about fun. Just signing up to be put on the mailing list for various clubs makes a difference. All sorts of events are put on by different organizations from the billiards clubs to Engineers’ Week. The old saying (with my slight variation) is right; you can’t say you don’t like it unless you try it. Even going to one or two meetings for a club you might be interested in is better than nothing. You might actually enjoy it a lot. Afterward, you can narrow it down to a select few you really like and run for leadership positions in the future.

5. Enjoy yourself!

Freshman year is the best year of college. You will only get busier with classes, other extracurriculars, and work. Attend as many athletic events as you can or create some hobbies. Do not focus on classes as much as honors students or I usually do. College is about learning more than anything else, but do not overwork yourself to get straight A’s like high school. Take advantage of the wonderful university around you because these are the best years of your life.

Honors Abroad: Trace’s Eastern European Adventure

by Trace Tuthill

Hello from dark and gloomy Poland! Why dark and gloomy, you ask? Well mainly because the current time of sunset here in Wroclaw is 3:45 p.m.!!! For comparison in Ames right now it’s at 5:00 p.m. So yeah, there’s that……it’s a lot of fun and not at all depressing. But on to more interesting topics. This semester I’m studying at the Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences. It is one of several universities in Wroclaw (Breslau for you German speakers out there) and the city is actually like Ames on a bigger scale. There are 600,000 inhabitants and around 120,000 of them are students. So, the city is filled with cool bars, cafes, and a thousand other things for young people. The city is super cheap (a beer is $1 if you know the right place), has great public transportation, and has a good ratio of downtown areas to residential areas. Another plus you ask? It’s located within Flixbus distance of every major city in Eastern Europe: this makes it super easy (and pretty cheap) to travel. Bring on the pictures!

The main square of Wroclaw (the square is called Rynek in Polish). It is in the middle of “Old Town” (usually we abbreviate the whole of Old Town as Rynek). A popular spot because a lot of the bars, cafes, and restaurants are located in this area and it is the most picturesque in Wroclaw.


My favorite picture from Krakow (the historic Polish capitol is incredibly beautiful for the record). This is the church in the Wawel Castle. I like it because it looks like an 8 year-old was mixing and matching different pieces from his lego box.


Another castle! (Spoiler Alert: Europe has lots of them) This one is the castle in Prague, the largest castle complex in the world. Which is just a fancy way of saying it’s so big it doesn’t really look anything like a castle. Prague is awesome, but also sprawling so it’s hard to find a picture that really sums it up.


I did a terrible job of taking pictures in Dresden, Germany so this is what I have. The city is on the smaller side but super interesting because 85% of it was destroyed by Allied bombing. There’s also an INCREDIBLE museum of military history there that I would highly recommend.


So this was taken on my way to Poland, but this was my favorite part of Europe by far. I’m in Gimmelwald, Switzerland and I cannot describe how stunning the scenery is. If you want to take a look at more photos, the link below is where I’ve been putting everything. The Gimmelwald folder is full of panoramics that I should be selling to a stock photo company.–?usp=sharing


Everybody will tell you that it’s more about the memories and people you meet than the photos and souvenirs that you get, and they would be right. I’ve met so many incredible people, whether it is for an evening at a hostel in Tossa del Mar, Spain or a whole semester here in Wroclaw. I might not remember why some Hapsburg emperor built the Vienna Opera House, but I will remember going to a concert in Berlin with a German friend. Or staying in an AirBnB with my Spanish roommates in Prague. Or playing drinking games with some Polish people in my dorm that I met outside the night before (shhhh don’t tell my mom). These things have made this semester a rewarding experience that I could not be more thankful for.

Motivation to Get through This Week (Break!!)

by Emma Troyer

I know it has been a long semester, but we are so close to Thanksgiving break. There are many things to look forward to over break and I am going to share them, so you all have motivation to make it through these last couple of tests and days until you are stuffing your face with turkey!

1. Break means two more weeks of classes

Some of you might be sick of your classes; well, good news! After this week, we only have two more weeks of classes. I know that means we have finals week in a month, but then we have another break! The motivation to finish strong should be better than ever after break.

2. Thanksgiving time

When I go home for thanksgiving break, that means time with my family. It is awesome to see most of my family after a long semester. Just imagine enjoying all of that great Thanksgiving food surrounded by everyone that you love! If that isn’t motivation to finish out this week, I don’t know what is!

3. Break from STRESS

Use this break to relax and enjoy time away from your classes! We all know the next three weeks might be the worst three weeks of fall, but just take some time to relax. It is healthy to take a break and have something else on your mind besides school!

4. The sad thing… a week away from Honors friends

The close relationships I have formed by being in Honors has been incredible. I have met some of my best friends through my first honors class freshman year. Leaving for a week and then another four will be hard on a lot of us! Good thing we have social media 🙂