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I'm a undergrad college junior right now but I've never got an internship because during my sophomore year I thought I was not qualified for any out there. Up until this point I still don't think I can do much.

I happened to talk to a staff of the career development in my school a few days ago. I started being very timid and confused, saying, "I don't think I'm qualified for any internship.... it's like I don't have all the required skills and I'm just average at what I'm doing..." Then she abruptly interrupted me and said, "It is an internship."

I understand her point. But shouldn't you just not waste anyone's time if you are not helpful to anyone? I guess I can do certain thing because at least I'm a normal person who can handle her life smoothly on a daily basis, and I do have certain skills, but when I start to think more about job and internship, like really seriously thinking about that matter, I'm fully convinced that I am not good enough for any position I have seen online. She said that I was psyching myself out. I don't know.

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First of all, how do you read the qualification/ requirement on the internship position information and properly evaluate yourself? For example, "excellent photoshop skill," "Excellent oral and written communications skills; able to provide outstanding customer service to exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, etc" "strong organizational skills are a must." (These are random items.) How to you evaluate those bold words? What do they even mean? What is the standard for "excellent, strong, and outstanding?" How do you know how well you meet those criteria?

Sure I can communicate through writing, as what I'm doing now and hopefully you guys understand what I'm trying to say, but I don't think it's excellent, just average things everyone can do, and I always make grammar mistakes. (My oral is really awful but the weak points here don't matter because I already know that I don't qualified for it) The problem is that I don't know if I am assessing myself accurately and that if my ability match the criteria, which I don't know either.

And the "a must" thing is so strong that I immediately know I fail on that part. I am not an expert on all those things, like I'm not an English major or someone who has been working at customer service for ten years. I consider my skill level on all the above as just the level of an average guy on the street, or worse than that. But hey, if you tell me, "you must do the customer service tomorrow!" I will try my best doing that, even though my oral is really bad, but I can do good, hopefully, at other parts of customer service to try compensating the verbal part, like all the behind-the-scene work.

Second, let's say there are ten items on the list of qualifications, and I meet 8 or 9 of them but is really weak at the remaining one or two, should I still apply for the position?

Third, how do those of you who have done both summer and fall/ spring internships feel? Are the fall/ spring semester internship generally more stressful because of schoolwork than summer internship, at a time when you are free of study?
Now I think I'm not prepared for internship in summer, and thinking about the alternative of fall internship, and learn as much as I can during the summer.

Last question, is it reaaaally bad for me not to do any internship during the upcoming summer, which is before my SENIOR year? Will it be too late if I put it off to the fall? I feel really bad because I have friends who have already been doing that since last semester (her first semester of junior year).
 
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Hmm we are all inexperienced and in need of some guidance before having any experience anyways; and then an internship means helping the intern fit in, so that it's expected that the intern would need initial guidance anyways.

Also, compare yourself to the other graduates. Aren't most of them inexperienced and similar to you? So you don't really have to worry that much.

As for the list of desired traits, I'd say don't worry too much about it. Try to go to the interviews, and see what they feel about you. If you satisfy the majority of the list then it's actually good.
 

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I'm a undergrad college junior right now but I've never got an internship because during my sophomore year I thought I was not qualified for any out there. Up until this point I still don't think I can do much.

I happened to talk to a staff of the career development in my school a few days ago. I started being very timid and confused, saying, "I don't think I'm qualified for any internship.... it's like I don't have all the required skills and I'm just average at what I'm doing..." Then she abruptly interrupted me and said, "It is an internship."

I understand her point. But shouldn't you just not waste anyone's time if you are not helpful to anyone? I guess I can do certain thing because at least I'm a normal person who can handle her life smoothly on a daily basis, and I do have certain skills, but when I start to think more about job and internship, like really seriously thinking about that matter, I'm fully convinced that I am not good enough for any position I have seen online. She said that I was psyching myself out. I don't know.
You need to adjust your attitude and start seeing your own worth. If you don't see it, no one else will, either... period.


First of all, how do you read the qualification/ requirement on the internship position information and properly evaluate yourself? For example, "excellent photoshop skill," "Excellent oral and written communications skills; able to provide outstanding customer service to exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, etc" "strong organizational skills are a must." (These are random items.) How to you evaluate those bold words? What do they even mean? What is the standard for "excellent, strong, and outstanding?" How do you know how well you meet those criteria?
This kind of stuff is in every job application... it's just fluff. No job posting is ever going to say they are looking for someone who is "pretty good" or "kinda average" or "doesn't suck." All companies are looking to get the most value in their hires, and in that sense, they shoot for the moon.

One thing you have to keep in mind is that job postings are typically written by some lackey in an HR department, not someone with any kind of real authority or even someone who knows what they are talking about. For instance, I once helped a friend of mine (a software developer) apply for a job where the ad said "5+ years experience in [whatever software] is a must." Well, at the time, that particular software had only been in existence for 3 years, so no one on God's great green earth would have 5+ years experience in it. I've seen this sort of thing a dozen times... what happens is that the department looking to hire someone gives their HR department the skillset of their desired candidate, and the HR drones take what they're given and bump things up, even if it is objectively impossible, because they don't know any better, they're just looking to get the best candidate for the money.

Sure I can communicate through writing, as what I'm doing now and hopefully you guys understand what I'm trying to say, but I don't think it's excellent, just average things everyone can do, and I always make grammar mistakes. (My oral is really awful but the weak points here don't matter because I already know that I don't qualified for it) The problem is that I don't know if I am assessing myself accurately and that if my ability match the criteria, which I don't know either.
You might be surprised, but what you consider "average" communication skills are actually in very short supply. There are many people out there who are absolutely terrible at writing, so, by comparison, yours would be "excellent" even if you only consider them average. They're not looking for the next James Joyce. They want someone who can communicate clearly and effectively without making stupid mistakes like using "your" instead of "you're." The bar for "excellence" these days has been set very low, so don't psych yourself out.

Second, let's say there are ten items on the list of qualifications, and I meet 8 or 9 of them but is really weak at the remaining one or two, should I still apply for the position?
Yes, absolutely. The worst that can happen if you apply is that you don't get the position. But if you don't apply, the only thing that can happen is that you don't get the position.

Third, how do those of you who have done both summer and fall/ spring internships feel? Are the fall/ spring semester internship generally more stressful because of schoolwork than summer internship, at a time when you are free of study?
Now I think I'm not prepared for internship in summer, and thinking about the alternative of fall internship, and learn as much as I can during the summer.
It really depends on what your major is, how heavy your course-load is, and in what field you're trying to get an internship. I didn't have a single internship in undergrad, but I've had several in law school. My opinion is that summer internships are best because they let you focus on one thing. I had a Fall internship during my second year of law school that was really laid-back and it didn't really stress me out to have that in addition to a full course-load, but then I had another one the following Spring in probate court and it was extremely stressful to have to work for a judge and manage all my school work. But, again, it all depends on what your semesters are like.

Last question, is it reaaaally bad for me not to do any internship during the upcoming summer, which is before my SENIOR year? Will it be too late if I put it off to the fall? I feel really bad because I have friends who have already been doing that since last semester (her first semester of junior year).
Again, it depends on what your area of study is and in what industry you'd like to work. I didn't have a single internship as an undergrad, and I've done pretty well for myself. Having an internship can only help you, as far as getting experience, but not having one won't necessarily hurt you except in the sense that you're missing out on an opportunity to enhance your resume and thus improve your prospects for post-graduation employment.
 

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I'm a undergrad college junior right now but I've never got an internship because during my sophomore year I thought I was not qualified for any out there. Up until this point I still don't think I can do much.

I happened to talk to a staff of the career development in my school a few days ago. I started being very timid and confused, saying, "I don't think I'm qualified for any internship.... it's like I don't have all the required skills and I'm just average at what I'm doing..." Then she abruptly interrupted me and said, "It is an internship."

I understand her point. But shouldn't you just not waste anyone's time if you are not helpful to anyone? I guess I can do certain thing because at least I'm a normal person who can handle her life smoothly on a daily basis, and I do have certain skills, but when I start to think more about job and internship, like really seriously thinking about that matter, I'm fully convinced that I am not good enough for any position I have seen online. She said that I was psyching myself out. I don't know.
To me, it sounds like your 5 enneagram is clouding your self-esteem. Perhaps you're subconsciously trying to avoid applying because you fear having your energy drained by working with people. I know this is true for me.

First of all, how do you read the qualification/ requirement on the internship position information and properly evaluate yourself? For example, "excellent photoshop skill," "Excellent oral and written communications skills; able to provide outstanding customer service to exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, etc" "strong organizational skills are a must." (These are random items.) How to you evaluate those bold words? What do they even mean? What is the standard for "excellent, strong, and outstanding?" How do you know how well you meet those criteria?
This is just part of US business culture. You're supposed to lie about these things, then meet try to meet the challenge if it does turn out that you need to organize something, etc.

Second, let's say there are ten items on the list of qualifications, and I meet 8 or 9 of them but is really weak at the remaining one or two, should I still apply for the position?
Yes, if it sounds like an okay internship I would. But, I'd probably still keep a look out for internships that I thought were more appealing.
 
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@anarchitektur

Thanks! It's really helpful to hear a little bit about how things work in general. I'm surprised by the 5+year experience in the software example. And the writing skill part. It's hard to imagine that any college student or anyone would make that "your" mistake. :shocked:
 
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To me, it sounds like your 5 enneagram is clouding your self-esteem. Perhaps you're subconsciously trying to avoid applying because you fear having your energy drained by working with people. I know this is true for me.
Haha, probably. It's kind of true, actually. But then I think if I can be more skilled and competitive I can at least wipe out some obstacles and make things easier.

This is just part of US business culture. You're supposed to lie about these things, then meet try to meet the challenge if it does turn out that you need to organize something, etc.
(Sigh) SAD. It's one of those things that kill humanities but so common that you are not even aware of.

Yes, if it sounds like an okay internship I would. But, I'd probably still keep a look out for internships that I thought were more appealing.
I would like to have something on my resume, so.
 

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My first "internship" was with the Youth Apprenticeship program at my high school. I was 16 years old and that kid who knew a little more than the average person about computers. I just dove in head first and accepted the challenge. Now I am currently touching up my resume and it's amazing how far I've come in almost 8 years (I'll be 24 this month). Just find something that interests you, dive in head first, and take every opportunity to learn and excel.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My first "internship" was with the Youth Apprenticeship program at my high school. I was 16 years old and that kid who knew a little more than the average person about computers. I just dove in head first and accepted the challenge. Now I am currently touching up my resume and it's amazing how far I've come in almost 8 years (I'll be 24 this month). Just find something that interests you, dive in head first, and take every opportunity to learn and excel.
Hmm.. yeah maybe I should just do.
A lot of you guys are suggesting a reversed logic to me, which is quite surprising. :shocked:
My friend got on internship since last summer when she was a sophomore. I don't know how she did that. :rolleyes:
But I thought I was just pretty bad because of that.
 

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Getting a job is less about skills, and more about how you'll fit in as a team member. A good internship is one where the company is taking a serious look at your ability to perform tasks, deal with people, make judgements, etc.. The rest of the stuff they can train. Who you are is more of a difficult thing to get from an interview.

As to when and how. You can never have enough internship experience if you're goal is career oriented (as opposed to academic). Depending on how bad your GPA is, I'd be less worried about that if I could show job experience.
 

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Getting a job is less about skills, and more about how you'll fit in as a team member. A good internship is one where the company is taking a serious look at your ability to perform tasks, deal with people, make judgements, etc.. The rest of the stuff they can train. Who you are is more of a difficult thing to get from an interview.
I'm looking at it from a the view of an IT person and while teamwork is definitely important, you need to have a base level of skills you have and a willingness to learn more. Basically you need to be informed about what you are doing. That doesn't mean know everything but just be able to demonstrate some competencies that you will ultimately build on as you gain more experience.
 

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Hmm.. yeah maybe I should just do.
A lot of you guys are suggesting a reversed logic to me, which is quite surprising. :shocked:
My friend got on internship since last summer when she was a sophomore. I don't know how she did that. :rolleyes:
But I thought I was just pretty bad because of that.
Not to downplay your friends' skills or anything, but some people just get lucky. That's how I got an internship after second year. My GPA wasn't great that yeat, but I just happened to know someone who knew someone and had some experience with this one piece of software. There ya go.

As with what everyone else said here, people who hire for internships aren't expecting a lot of experience and skills. That's the point of the internship; of course you have to have some basic skills, but the beauty is they know you have limited experience. You're allowed to make mistakes. They just want someone who's resilient enough to learn from them and have the basic skills to do well most of the time.

Also, a lot of the places do internships because they're looking to pick up permanent hires after they graduate. It's like test driving a car - would this person be a good match for the company? If they think so, and you show up in the interview and they like your attitude, or teamwork skills, or they think you're pretty dang smart or whatever, then they'll be willing to put up with some shortcomings to get you on board.

Just go for it! :p
 

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My high school internship turned into a college "internship." I worked 40 hours a week starting when I turned 18 and continued through college. They also paid half of my college too through tuition assistance so there are definitely positives of jumping in head first and just taking an internship.
 

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Not to downplay your friends' skills or anything, but some people just get lucky. That's how I got an internship after second year. My GPA wasn't great that yeat, but I just happened to know someone who knew someone and had some experience with this one piece of software. There ya go.
This, I can also relate to the luck factor. During my last college year, our college's website has a list of internships proposed by different companies so that we students could enlist to. It was a stupid system, as our college set the rules that for each internship, only one student could go to the interview, and if there are two students wanting the same internship, then the one with the best grade wins. And then each student could also only enlist to one internship by time, unless he/she fails the interview.
So there I was, like everyone else, going to the interviews, and I had 4 interviews with 3 companies and failed. Since we weren't allowed to enlist to multiple internships at time, I had to ask each company if they accepted me when they never answered after the interviews. After some good weeks of waiting and desperating, my teacher just told me that I have to wait for the next semester as it would be too late for me to start then.
But I didn't want to be at home for 6 months, so I've decided to get my own job. Actually, we can get internship by our own, by proposing it to companies by our own. Luckily, in that moment some companies went to do presentation at my college, and I used that opportunity to distribute my CV. And there it was, two companies asked for an interview. And guess what, as I improved through my last 4 failed interviews, these two actually accepted me. One of them offered me an above average payment for a normal job, which is too great compared to the horrible internship payment. This is the company where I am today, even after almost 3 years. :)
Funny is, there were students who got better grades than me, yet they ended up with horrible payments and job conditions. When I learned about this, I actually posted on my course's forum, yet no one really cared to reply. :( I hope that other students would not fall for bad internship conditions so that the companies would be forced to offer better conditions.


Anyways, I'd say be attentive to any opportunity that might appear. At the same time, we need to prepare ourselves the best so that we can have more success in grabbing golden opportunities. Initial failures in interviews is not a big deal, many people fails at them, it's ok as long as we learn from each of them.
 

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I'm almost in the same situation as you. I I feel like I'm may not be best qualified in some internships.

But I say you apply for whatever internships you meet the minimum requirements for. Just cause you apply doesn't necessarily mean you'll get and interview and even then it doesn't mean you'll get the internship.

Like previously stated, it's just an internship. They know you're inexperienced and they can quickly determine if you're fit for the job via interviews.

Ps: you may not actually do many or most of the things that the job description says
 

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I feel like a lot of words that are thrown around in the working or professional world are a bunch of bullshit. Academic too. It's gotta look good, it's gotta sound good, it has to give the impression of class. Don't be intimidated. You know what you have to offer, you want this, go for it. Present yourself, only say your strengths unless asked otherwise. They are looking for someone. You never know unless you try. Don't worry about thinking of wasting their time or not being up to their standards. They're not important or powerful. It's about you and what you're capable of doing, so don't sell yourself short and give it all you got.
 

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Present yourself, only say your strengths unless asked otherwise.
I totally agree, except I'd go one step further and say that, even when you're asked about your weaknesses, give a non-answer because "What would you say is your greatest weakness?" is the most bullshit interview question I can think of. No one really wants to know what your greatest weakness is... and even if they did, why should they be entitled to that information? Imagine an interviewer's face if someone replied, "I have difficulty establishing emotional intimacy with my sexual partners" or "I am genetically predisposed to alcoholism."

That question has become such a cliche that its only purpose is to either fill space so the interviewer feels like he/she is asking enough questions, or to see how you "spin a negative into a positive." But, in relation to the latter, the answers to these questions have become such cliches themselves that the whole thing is just a waste of time. Really? Your greatest weakness is that you "work too hard" or "care too much?" Give me a break. If you get a question about your weaknesses, just dismiss it with something like, "My greatest weakness is my inability to divulge my weaknesses to others," so you can move on to a question that actually matters.
 

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To be quite honest, there is little expectation of undergraduates in internships. Every internship knows that they are going to be spending more resources on you then what they are getting back. Someone is required to mentor you (which uses their valuable time), they probably give you a stipend, and will also spend time explaining what they are doing to you.

Just show that you have the motivation to learn quickly and demonstrate an interest in what research they are doing.

I applied to an internship this summer on the east coast at the most prestigious institute(A US military center) for research in my field. I landed the gig, but then sequester hit. I ended up taking a different internship at a ranked top 20 medical center. To be honest, the military internship was out of my league and I'm surprised I was a good candidate. Just write a strong cover letter indicating your strengths, knowledge, and capacity to be a good worker (or researcher if that's what you're doing). In the meantime while you're in undergrad, try to grab TAships or an internship experience with professors, etc. Don't underestimate yourself. You never know what will happen.
 
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