5 Reasons Why You Didn't Get the Internship

5 Reason's You Didn't Get the Internship

By Alicia Harris

It’s the most bittersweet time of the year. Your vacation to the Palm Springs is right around the corner and you are more than ready to feel the sand between your toes. Summer is finally here and you have perfectly planned out every detail except for the most important one – your internship. You spent countless hours applying to several different internships but were denied all of them and you just don’t understand why.

Angela Joyner, the executive director of Radford University’s Career Center, is not new to the internship and job hustle. Here are her top five reasons on why you might not have received a call back.

1. Qualifications

This is one of the top reasons candidates are not chosen for a job. Often a hiring manager is looking for someone who meets many of the qualifications required for the open position. With an internship, many employers are looking for transferable skills either from your classes, previous jobs or organizations that you are involved in on campus. Employers understand that they will need to provide training for an intern but would also like to hire someone who can get up to speed quickly. In some instances, you may be qualified for the role but another candidate could have stronger qualifications than your own. The chosen candidate may have taken the same coursework but volunteered in a related field or spent time shadowing someone in the field to get a better awareness of the job.

2. The Interview


Many candidates lose the job during the interview process. I have interviewed dozens of candidates who were not adequately prepared for the interview. It is important to research the company, the job description and ideally the people you will be meeting for the interview. It is obvious when candidates do not take the time to do their homework. If you don’t have time to research the company, the employer will wonder how interested you are in working for them. Another pitfall during interviews is not being able to tell your story in a compelling way. Most people believe that once they write their resume, they are finished and ready to go. Strong candidates can articulate their experiences by sharing the situation, what they did in the situation, what happened as a result of their actions and why that is important to the employer. Employers like to mix up the type of questions they ask during an interview to see how a candidate responds. Some candidates don’t take the opportunity to ask questions or ultimately ask for the job. Recruiters want to know why they should hire YOU for the job. They want to learn why you would be an asset to the company and it is important to differentiate yourself in the interview.

3. Fit

Although you will only be spending a short period of time at the company, employers are looking for people who will fit their culture. Hiring managers and recruiters know what type of person will succeed at their company. Do you share the same values as the organization? Do you believe in their mission? I have been in hiring calibration sessions and have been asked, “Would you want this person on your team?” If you are not considered a team player or perceived as arrogant, that could indicate that you might not be a good fit for a role that requires you to work on a cross-functional team. If you are only successful when you are in a structured environment, interning at a start-up might not be the best fit for you. “Fit” can be a subjective measure during the hiring process, but one that could play an important role in the hiring decision.

4. Social Media Sabotage

Having inconsistent messaging about your professional brand has kept many candidates from receiving an internship offer. Over 85% of recruiters use social media as part of their recruiting process. If you have unsavory pictures on Facebook or posts on Instagram or posted inappropriate content on your blog, it could cost you. Recruiters often look up social media profiles of their candidates. If you post content on social media channels, it is open for others to view. They want to understand if who you portray on your resume is the same person they see on social media channels. If you have unprofessional or inappropriate content on social media, clean it up before you begin your job search.

5. The Network

Don’t underestimate the power of having a strong professional network.  Doors have been opened and offers given based on the recommendation of other people. Do you have a strong professional network? How robust is your LinkedIn profile and how often are you nurturing those relationships? Connecting with your university alumni network or favorite professor could yield you a valuable inside contact to the company of your dreams. When you have hundreds of candidates applying for the same internship, it can be helpful to have someone you know at the company walk your resume to the hiring manager rather than hoping your application will stand out.

What final advice would you give to students who may be discouraged by their internship rejection?

Although you might have not received the internship offer you were expecting, don’t let that deter you from continuing your search. You can ask for feedback regarding your interview performance or how you can become a stronger candidate. Applying for several internships will give you multiple opportunities to refine your job search process and open the possibilities for employment. It can be disappointing to receive the news that you did not get the internship but don’t let that hold you back from pursuing other opportunities. There is an internship opportunity that could be right for your skill set just waiting for you to apply. Happy hunting!

Alicia Harris is a blogger, motivational speaker, and social media guru. She has a passion for activism and motivating her peers to be relentless in the face of adversity. You can stay up-to-date with her latest work at alicialexis.wordpress.com and follow her on Instagram @aliciaalexis