Is there an internship or job that you really want, but on the application, you don’t meet all of the qualifications? Well, then you should probably give up on that dream and settle for something else.
Actually, you should apply for that position anyway, at least that’s some advice that I’ve been given in the past and the advice I’ll give to you now.
As a junior, I’m looking for internships for the summer that have the potential to lead to jobs when I graduate. Whether that be an offer from the business I end up working at or through connections I make while networking or valuable experience that I gain from the internship. However, even though I am a junior and consider myself to have a good bit of experience in my major I still feel like there are internships that I’m unsure about applying for because of the required qualifications or experience.
For me, the biggest problem I run into is that the internship postings have very specific requirements concerned with what the potential applicants should be majoring in. I’m a journalism: strategic communication major, which means that I could potentially work in marketing, communications, public relations, or advertising. Through my classes and extracurricular activities, I can gain experience in any of these fields and more, but that can get complicated when I’m trying to apply to an internship that is looking for students that have experience in one of these specific fields.
In addition to having a major, that is hard to explain on paper, I also run into required qualifications or experience that I don’t meet 100 percent, and I’m sure you have experienced this too. However, it’s important that you don’t just abandon these applications, especially if it is a position that you are very interested in. Here are three ways you can present yourself to hiring managers or internship coordinators in a way that will positively position the experience you do have.
Emphasize what you bring to the table
Cover letters are a great space to talk about what your current skills and strengths are and how you would use them to benefit the organization where you are hoping to work. Highlight the skills that you have the most experience in and give a brief example of how they have benefited you or another organization where you have worked. For example, when I am applying to a communications internship one of the skills I highlight is my writing and I talk about blogs or other pieces of writing that have done well online at my current or previous positions.
Reach out to an alumnus at the company
In my experience, you will be hard-pressed to find a Bobcat that isn’t willing to help you with your job search or application in some way. One of the best ways to find out if an alumnus works at the company that you want to apply to is through LinkedIn. If you search for the company or business on LinkedIn, and on your profile, you have made sure to list Ohio University on your education, a little green OU logo will pop up under the company’s name if any OU alumni work there.
From there, it’s up to you to reach out that person through LinkedIn messaging or email. Introduce yourself and ask if they have any advice for you as you apply for a position at the company. Now, I’m not promising that everyone will respond, but I and other friends have had positive experiences with networking this way. The person you contact might also be willing to talk to you about the qualifications you’re worried that you don’t meet and help you figure out how to jump over that hurdle.
Show that you’re willing to learn
This goes back to your cover letter, resume, and the application itself. If you can list skills or abilities on any of these documents that show you value learning and are willing to work to gain new skills, it can benefit you. At my previous and current jobs, there has always been a learning curve to get used to the new position and required skills, and my employers have always been very understanding about that. I showed in my application and in-person that I was willing to work hard to learn skills that I might not already possess and as a result I was hired. For example, when I applied for my position here at the CLDC, I completed a case study as part of the application process, but you don’t necessarily have to wait for a prompt from the employer. You can do research on the company and have some of your own suggestions ready, if prompted, about problems they may need help solving.
These three tips are a good starting point to applying to positions that you might think you are underqualified for, but one last important thing is to remember to be honest with the hiring manager or potential employer about your skills and qualifications. If you are honest in the interview and on your application, it will probably go a long way and show that even if you aren’t the “perfect” candidate you’re eager for the position anyway and are willing to work hard to meet all of those qualifications.
By Kate Ansel, CLDC Social Media Intern