Should I Apply if I'm Not Qualified?

Applying for Internships When You Don't Fee Qualified

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Although it is often recommended that you apply for each internship you are interested in and feel qualified for, is it wise to apply for positions where you don’t meet 100% of the requirements?

Let's suppose you only meet 80% of the qualifications or perhaps you don’t meet any of them at all; there may be times when I would recommend that you go ahead and apply anyway. At this point, you will need to ask yourself why you are thinking about applying and if it makes sense for you to try?

If it does, go ahead and apply since you can always decide later to withdraw your application.

Preparing Your Resume

When preparing your resume and cover letter for any internship or job, you will first want to look at the position description and then review the qualifications. If you feel that you meet the majority of the qualifications, it is probably wise that you go ahead and apply in hopes of getting called for an interview. By targeting your resume and cover letter, you will be matching your skills and qualifications to the employer and the specific position available. If you find that you lack the specific skill they are looking for, you will want to highlight your transferable skills, which could also get you called for an interview.

Applying for an Internship

By asking yourself why you want to apply, you may find your answer.  Does the internship look appealing and are you excited about just the thought of applying?

Is the internship in an industry or career field that you’ve always wanted to enter? Do you feel that the internship will be a good stepping stone that will give you the experience you need to apply for more advanced positions decide to go ahead and apply in hopes that the employer decides that you are a good fit for the organization.

When applying for internships and jobs, it's also important to remember that you have no idea of the competition you are up against. Employers may find that your background and personal attributes will be a great fit for the company, even though you may not feel qualified for the job. In my experience of interviewing and hiring people, I have often found it amazing as to the types of jobs that people apply for when they don't meet the qualifications.  A few years back I was looking for someone to fill a career counseling position, and I received 70 applications.  In the group of applications, there were approximately only 30 applicants that somewhat met the qualifications. I received applications from individuals working in the food industry, retail, and a number of other occupations. Although we needed someone that met the educational and experience requirements, there are many positions where transferable skills can be obtained in a number of very different work environments.

I’ve seen students that fall on both sides of the spectrum. There are those students that will apply for anything in hopes of getting called for an interview. When applying they may look briefly at the job description and the requirements of the job.

Although this may work for some students, focusing more on the internships you are interested in or qualified for can save you time and energy.

Do You Need to Meet All the Qualifications

On the other hand, I often work with students who feel that they don’t meet all or any of the qualifications that are listed on the job posting. These students believe that they must be highly skilled to apply and they must be able to meet all requirements of the job. The thing that’s important for students to keep in mind is that internships are learning experiences and that employers don’t expect their interns to have all of the knowledge and experience they would need if they were applying for a job. Often employers will start with a phone interview to see if they feel you are qualified for the job.

Internships are a way to gain the knowledge and skills required when they are seeking a full-time job; therefore, as a student, I would encourage you to at least apply, so you have a chance of gaining the experience you will need to get hired once you have graduated from college.

While we can debate the issue of applying for internships that you don’t feel qualified for, it’s important to realize that it’s not always the most qualified candidate that gets the job. As mentioned above, if you establish a great rapport with the interviewer and exhibit the most enthusiasm and confidence, it is highly likely that you will get hired even over other candidates that meet 100% of the qualifications. Going into the interview with a positive attitude, motivation, and a strong work ethic you will increase your chances exponentially in getting hired for the job.