The Technology for Change blog is happy to announce our new contributor, Adil Imani. Adil started as the tech intern in January.

Breaking out of the Mac Bubble

I was determined to avoid the “Mac Bubble” in my last semester at Macalester. “Mac Bubble” refers to a term developed by students at Macalester College which symbolizes the risk of being so involved in Macalester life that you are unable to explore the great opportunities in the Twin Cities. That’s why a handy piece of advice given to me was “Get out of the Mac Bubble!” While I have always enjoyed the great opportunities for leadership and campus involvement, I strongly believe in exploring the local community through volunteering, internships, biking and anything else that gets you “out there.”

While a spring semester internship was not on my radar (already suffering from Senior-itus), I came across an internship position at thedatabank through the Economics department. Reading through it, I realized that this internship would be very different from previous internships I have had. This was my first opportunity to work at a relatively small company, with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, a close-knit group of employees, the freedom to explore my own ideas and the opportunity to work closely with and learn from everyone at the company.

“How would you wash a dirty dish?”

My interview for thedatabank was set up for 1pm Central Time on a Tuesday. Interestingly, this translated to 1.30am for me as I was on my J-Term break in Mumbai, India. At least I can check that off my bucket list! Despite it being 1:30am, my brain became surprisingly active within 5 minutes of the interview, since the first question was “How would you wash a dirty dish?” I resisted the urge (as far as I could) to spurt out a tongue-in-cheek response.

Being thrown curveball questions, or questions that have been designed to prevent you from preparing for them, have become increasingly common in interviews across industries. Seemingly random and unrelated questions like “How would you wash a dirty dish?” actually serve as a great way for your potential employer to see how well you think on-the-spot, how detail-oriented and structured you are in your response, how clearly you explain something and get a glimpse of your personality as you answer it. Here are some tips for preparing for those unpreparable interview questions:

  • Don’t get nervous – If the answer is not immediately obvious to you, don’t worry – it’s not supposed to be. That’s the point
  • Take your time – It’s not about how fast you can answer it, it’s about the structure and detail of your answer. Take a moment to think through the question and put together a good answer
  • Practice – You can search online for potential interview questions. Look up some of the more obscure ones and think to yourself how you would answer them, so you have practice responding to these types of questions

Thirty minutes later the interview was over and the next day I was told that I had been chosen for the Tech Intern position. I was thrilled about it, and my parents joked that I should probably take up the dish-washing responsibilities at home.

I was a little unsettled by not knowing my exact job description and the details of my project, as I had been used to knowing for past positions. My first day at thedatabank however, dispelled any such feelings – not because I was given a job description, but because I truly realized the amazing potential and opportunities I would have over the next four months.