I heard the absolutely worst story you could possibly imagine. Well, to a recruiter like myself and someone that cares about people’s careers, it’s the worst kind of story.
A teacher friend of mine had a really exceptional student who was looking for an internship. They were ending their junior year in college, heading into the summer. This is prime summer internship season for those looking to land permanent jobs after they graduate. This teacher knew a business owner in her field that was offering summer internships, and contacted them in hopes of getting this student an interview. This business owner interviewed the candidate twice and ultimately offered them the job! A dream scenario for the student.
The student turned it down.
Turned. It. Down. I couldn’t believe this!
Hearing this story made me more angry than I’ve been in a while. How could you possibly turn down an opportunity like this that would help you get your foot in the door to your industry?
Here were the reasons given:
• I just don’t feel ready
• The drive is too far (45-60mins)
Internships are exceedingly hard to come by. A paid internship, even more so. You have to seize opportunities like that no matter the cost. The drive or inconvenience can be worked out later. Focus on your inner Grant Cardone and commit, then figure out the details later. When you have no experience and someone is willing to give you experience, the first thing you say is absolutely yes, and fill in the blanks later.
When you are young and coming out of college, you don’t really understand how things work in the professional world. (You actually need to de-program yourself after college and start self-teaching right away.) Professionally, you aren’t aware of what it means when somebody puts their professional reputation at stake on your behalf. More than that, you aren’t aware of what time means to professionals. Remember, this was two interviews with a business owner, the person with the least amount of time. The fact that you have turned this opportunity down reflects poorly not just on you, but also on the teacher who referred you. It’s very unlikely this person will vouch for you again moving forward.
I think the reasons this whole transaction derailed so terribly are:
- No expectations were set from the beginning (blame teacher)
- No context was given for what this internship would mean down the line (blame teacher)
- Possible issues with travel were not brought up at the beginning (blame student)
- Being uncomfortable as a reason to turn down a once in a lifetime opportunity (blame student)
Everyone involved will (hopefully) learn that if this situation happens again, the best solution is to get out in front of the problems before they arise by setting proper expectations at the forefront.
For other content related to the job search, resumes, and MBTI, please check out my other terrific articles.
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