If there is one truth that is universally applicable to all students in higher education, it is this: doing internships is key. Not only do internships help you get a foot into the door of your chosen industry, they also allow you to apply your hard-earned academic knowledge. Internships also remind you that there is a whole exciting working world out there that you can soon join.

The tricky thing is that you cannot just sign up for internships the way you do for classes. You actually need to apply for them as you would do for a job, and if you are lucky, you get invited for an interview. That is when the pressure really starts to build up, because in this brief chat with the company representative you will need to convince them why they should pick you over someone else.

But rest assured – there are steps you can take to make sure you ace that interview.

Step One: Do Your Research

The best way to impress your interviewer is to show that you know the company well and that you keep up with industry news. This is easy to do if you are really passionate about the company and its work – and much harder if the company and work seems like a bore. Do yourself a favour and only apply to companies that you find intriguing. This makes it easier for you to actually remember the things you read about them on their website and elsewhere. Your preparedness will shine through in the interview.

Step Two: Dress as if You Already Work There

Dress like a professional. If you do not know what the company’s dress code is like, err on the side of caution and dress business smart. It is always better to be overdressed rather than underdressed. Invest in nice dress shoes and neutral-coloured professional clothing, and make sure your outfit is neat and clean. Leave the neon pinks and other statement fashion pieces for the post-interview celebration with your friends. You should also go easy on perfume and jewellery – you will want the focus to be on what you say rather than your appearance.

Step Three: Avoid Doing Anything Last Minute

Do not take the last possible bus or train that could get you to your interview – plan to arrive at least 15-30 minutes before your scheduled interview. If you are driving, then you should leave early in case there are unforeseen traffic jams. You should also avoid last-minute eating and drinking: rushing can lead to coffee stains on your shirt and bits of food stuck between your teeth. That is not a good look! Refrain from checking social media, your email or any news sites right before your interview to keep from getting distracted. If something major has happened in the world or among your social circle, it is best to find out only after you have aced the interview.

Step Four: Get Good Sleep

Your brain needs eight hours of sleep in order to function properly. Do not party the night before the interview, and do not pull any all-nighters studying either. The scruffy been-awake-all-night look will not impress your interviewer in the way that it does your friends. Instead, you should try to get proper sleep for several nights before the interview. This way you will be alert and ready to showcase your work skills, not your dark under-eye circles.

Step Five: Keep Calm and Carry On

Above all, do not panic. You’ve got this. You are talented, confident, smart and a good catch. Take a deep breath and try to present yourself in a calm, collected manner. The company will see your value if it is a good match. If it is not, don’t worry. At least you have gained more interviewing experience and next time you will definitely get the internship of your dreams. Practice makes perfect!

If you found this helpful, you may also want to read our blog: Internships – How Important is One?

About the Writer: Mirva Lempiäinen is a US-educated freelance journalist from Finland. After calling New York City home for about a decade, she now resides on the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.