If You Have 80 Internship Candidates and Not One Is Good Enough, You’re the Problem

by Evil HR Lady on August 14, 2020

When I was an undergraduate political science student at Brigham Young University, a new professor just transferred in from Princeton. We asked him what the difference was between BYU students and Princeton students. His answer?

Everyone at BYU is so busy! Everyone works! People are married with children. People have volunteer duties and church responsibilities. Princeton students, he said, don’t have all these extra burdens.

Now, this is one person’s opinion, and I’m sure there are Princeton students with part time jobs, families, and other outside responsibilities, but I’m also sure that different universities have different populations. The wealthier someone’s family is, the more likely they are to have free time. I worked through college, as did all my roommates and friends.

Why do I bring this up? I ran across a LinkedIn post by Stefaniya D. who rejected 80 internship candidates from top schools because they hadn’t done enough side projects (among other things).

Now, this is super helpful to know precisely what companies are looking for, and it also highlights one of the many reasons why the rich get richer. How many side projects does the student who is working full time on top of a full class load have? A student who is fully funded by mom and dad, or who is willing to take out massive student loans to cover tuition and living expenses, has time to do this type of stuff. None of my roommates ever did.

Additionally, this is an internship. You are not hiring a CEO here. Interns should be without much experience–which also means experience in job hunting as well. Don’t demand polish and perfection from someone who has never held a job before. You’re setting yourself up for failure.

I’m absolutely sure that the vast majority of the candidates she rejected could have successfully completed an internship at Candor if she had been willing to give any of them a chance.

It’s Time To Stop Hiring Talent! | Suzanne Lucas | DisruptHR Talks from DisruptHR on Vimeo.

Instead, she’s looking for a unicorn and then complaining that they don’t exist. An intern unicorn, the rarest of all creatures.

Internships are an opportunity for students to learn how to work and how to hold a job and how to get a job. Don’t require them to be masters of job hunting.

And, if she’s having so much trouble finding someone from the top schools, check out your state universities. Lots of people there who are just as brilliant but not quite as privileged.

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