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How to Deal When Your Internship Didn’t Lead to a Job


In an ideal world, you’d fall in love with your summer internship, and once it was over, you’d be surprised with a job offer because your employer just couldn’t stand to lose you. Sounds perfect, right? Yet somehow, life doesn’t always work out that easily for most of us.

Don’t stress, collegiettes! Just because you didn’t get hired doesn’t mean you didn’t do a great job or that your supervisor didn’t like you. In many cases, it just means that there wasn’t a position to fill at the time.

So don’t let not landing the job get you down, collegiettes—there are so many awesome perks about your internship that you’ll get regardless if you land a job offer or not. HC counts ‘em off for you.

You made connections

An internship is one of the best places to network. You have the opportunity to meet professionals and develop lasting relationships with them. They may even help you get a job at another point in your life!

When you’ve worked with someone before, he or she can put in a good word for you. So don’t be shy, and talk to as many people at your internship as you can! Ask them questions about what they do and how they got there. Most people will be happy to talk to you.

Before your internship is over, be sure to grab contact information from people you’ve worked with. Connect on LinkedIn so your former coworkers can stay up-to-date with your ongoing projects, and message them occasionally to stay in touch!

You can get recommendations

Most job applications require a list of professional contacts for recommendations. Sure, you can include professors, but it looks better to have former employers as references, too. A former internship supervisor can really speak to your work ethic.

So even if your internship didn’t result in a job offer, it can still help you get a job elsewhere! Again, it’s important to have good contacts at your internship who wouldn’t mind you putting their names down as references. Remember: Always ask potential references before you put their names and contact information on an application.

Expert interview coach Barry Drexler says to make providing references for you as simple as possible for your contacts.

“Make it easy for your reference by asking specifically what you want, e.g., ‘Please provide a reference about my general performance, including my abilities with clients, my computer skills … etc.,’” he says.

You’ll get interview ready

Relevant experience is one of the most important things that employers look for in job candidates. They want to see that you’ve used your time in college wisely. Having internships on your resume will put you ahead of the game!

Having prior experience will beneficial during interviews because you can talk about your internship experiences when answering questions.

“Internships are for learning and improving skills,” Drexler says. “Therefore, during the interview, you must talk about how your internships accomplished this.”

You get to shop companies

One of the perks of an internship is that it allows you to figure out what you want from a future company. Did you like the location, the tasks and the work environment of your current internship? That’s a good sign you should look for similar companies when you apply for jobs! On the other hand, you may have had an internship that you thought you’d love, but realized when you get there that it wasn’t what you expected and you would be happier working elsewhere. That’s one of the great things about internships: You get to see what it is like to work somewhere every day without fully committing yet.

Not getting a job offer might be a blessing in disguise if it would have made you consider taking a job that you didn’t really like simply because the offer was available. You don’t want to get stuck in a job that you don’t enjoy!

“Offer or no offer, you learned and developed skills that someone else wants,” Drexler says. “It’s a good thing you didn’t get it because it could have been the worst job, and now you'll get something better. Most people realize this when they look back, but it’s hard when you're going through rejection.”

Don’t freak out because your friends all have big-girl jobs and you don’t yet. Giving yourself more time to really figure out what you want to do before committing to a job offer will only help you in the long run. So go make the most of the internship experience you have under your belt and explore your other job options!  

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