Hermione (made up name to protect her identity) was a student in my fast-track Web Developer class at SAIT
in early 2017. Like a lot of students I get in that course, she was anxious about obtaining work after receiving her diploma.
One day in between exercises, I showed the class several 'Careers' web pages of good, local web design companies. One of those companies was Critical Mass
, a company I had actually consulted with before. I often recommend this company to students because they have a world class client list, they do internships, and I have experience with them. That particular day, they happened to have an opening at the time for a Junior Web Designer, but no posted opportunities for internships. I encouraged the students to apply for the Junior Web Designer opportunity and Hermione challenged me...
"How can we do that when we don't have all the qualifications in their list of requirements?"
I often get this question, and I had an answer. "You need to understand how a company creates a job description. Many put it together as a list of qualifications for the perfect candidate. Others will build the job description based on an existing successful employee in the company. They realize that most of the applicants won't match all of the qualifications - and this is particularly true in the IT industry. "
Hermione digested my answer, and piped up again. "But we're still in school and we have several more weeks before we'd be available to start working! Does it really make sense to apply now for a position like this?"
"Absolutely!" I replied. "You never know what might come out of an application. The hiring process for many companies takes several weeks. There's usually a bunch of interviews for them to schedule and have, and then some planning and logistics around actually bringing the successful applicant aboard. You never know what will happen out of an application."
She still looked skeptical. I moved the class onto another exercise and didn't think too much more about it.
Several weeks later, I received the following email from Hermione:
"I took your advice about applying for jobs and I applied at Critical Mass for a
Junior Web Developer position knowing that I was NOT qualified and that they probably never call me back. Guess what? They called me back! They don't think I am ready for the Junior Web Developer position, but they want me to interview for their internship program. The interview is on . Which leads me to the crux of this email. Would you consider being a reference for me? And do you have any advice for this interview?"
"Lol Excellent! Good for you, Hermione.
Certainly I can be a reference (as a teacher) for you.
Probably the best advice I have for your interview is if you don't have the right answer, straight up tell them. But then also tell them you'll have to answer (or know about whatever their asking you) tomorrow. In other words, when you get home, you'll investigate it and get the answers.
Bring a notepad to the interview and make notes about anything like that (so you look like you mean business). Come with a couple of questions as well. Research in advance anything in the job description you don't know about so you feel prepared. Research the company a bit - know where their office is, ensure you can make it there on time, who are their current clients, some of the history, etc.
Smile! I don't know if you read my blog post about that, but smiling is HUGE. If you can, try and get an interview somewhere else first to practice and get the jitters out (and maybe get a competing offer)
Hope that helps! Good luck!"
"Thank you! I appreciate the reference and the advice.
I've been panicking a little, I really thought they would never call. I'm scrambling to get my portfolio site updated for the interview, as well as just get prepared in general. I do have a practicum lined up though, so no pressure...sort of."
In the end, Hermione got the internship. She was nervous going into the internship because she didn't feel entirely qualified. I told her not to worry and ask LOTS of questions. She ended up successfully completed her internship and came out feeling better about it than she expected to. It was a great lesson for her (and for me and all more students who I tell this story to) of how there are opportunities that you don't see in the job market.