Thursday, May 11, 2017

It's your fault you didn't get that internship (and how to turn things around)

Summer has began, and many of my students are off to exciting places to do summer internships. However, some of my students applied to several internships but didn't get a single offer. Why not? Are there just not enough internships to go around?

If you want to know why you didn't get an internship, you need to understand what happened when you applied.

Your potential boss (or likely a designated person in charge of internships who we'll call the "recruiter") probably received a number of resumes of students interested in the internship. The recruiter briefly scanned the resumes for promising candidates who appeared to do good school work and did projects outside of the classroom. If you haven't put in the effort in your school work, you likely didn't make this first cut. If all you are relying on is just your school work to get noticed, you may also have not made the cut.

In some cases, the recruiter may have accepted your resume, even if it wasn't necessarily stellar. But the recruiter wanted a little more information about you, so they called a few of your professors.

What could I say when I was asked, "Do you think so-and-so would make a good employee?" As I reflect on the previous semester when you were in my class...
  • You slept in class or acted completely uninterested.
  • You turned in late work repeatedly and always had an excuse.
  • Your projects were turned in with obvious flaws.
  • You never asked me for help or even tried to form a relationship with me outside of class when given opportunities to.
  • You rarely replied to my emails or told me you never check your email.
I wish I could have said, "Yes! I'd hire them in a second!" Instead, I had to be honest and tell the recruiter what it was like having you as a student. Does the recruiter want to pay someone who doesn't do their work on time, always has an excuse, turns in code with bugs, avoids personal interactions with others, and is generally uncommunicative?

Here's my point: It's your fault you didn't get than internship. But it doesn't have to continue to be this way.
  • Show interest in class and ask questions.
  • Start putting effort into your course work.  Turn in homework and projects that you obviously put considerable effort and time into.
  • Make relationships with the faculty. Stop by their office for help when you are struggling or even just to say "hi".
  • Take ownership for your mistakes and avoid making excuses.
  • Reply to your email.  I'm not sending you email just for fun.
  • Work on side projects just for fun.  Or at least for professional development.
  • Have a good attitude!
You don't have to be a 4.0 student to get an internship.  You just need to show that you are willing to work, pleasant to be around, and take responsibility for yourself.

I want all my students to get internships next summer!