I am entering my senior year. I have a pretty low GPA. I am international and am looking for an internship in the business field. Is it too late?
Hi Nick – it is never too late to start; just realize that there are some hurdles you will need to overcome.
First, as an international student you need to be fully aware of what your student visa does and doesn’t allow
Check with the International Student office at your university. The International Student Advisers should be able to tell you your options. This can be complicated for international students. Some students can only work or do internships on campus. Others can only do unpaid internships (and unpaid internships usually require that you receive academic credit). Still others can only work by tapping into their Optional Practical Training (OPT). Like I said, it’s complicated and what might be a option for one student may not be an option for another. Every student’s situation is unique.
Second, “Is it too late?” has a lot of possible answers
Is it too late to do an internship for academic credit for this fall semester? I don’t know, but I would guess the answer to that question (on Sept 23rd) is Yes – it is too late.
Is it too late to do a paid internship for the fall without earning credit? No, you just have to find one for which are eligible.
Is it too late, in general, to do an internship? No! Your senior year is a ideal time to do an internship. And, if you only have one opportunity, your senior year is probably the best time to do an internship. You want an employer to see what you can do at a time when they might actually be able to hire you at the conclusion of the internship. By that standard, Spring 2013 is a great time for a May 2013 student to intern. Perhaps the best time.
Lastly, will your low GPA get in the way of you getting an internship?
Having low GPA will take you out of the running for some internships but not for all internships, so you can’t use that as a reason not to look!
If you are looking for an internship, you had better be ready to have the “Why is your GPA low? Is your GPA reflective of your ability to perform in the workplace?” conversation. It’s bound to come up. You cannot avoid it altogether, so you have to be prepared to have that conversation.
By the way, employers can generally tell when you are not being truthful with them, so don’t try to spin up a story that isn’t true to explain away your GPA. Employers can also tell when you are being truthful and authentic (and they really appreciate it!).
A couple of weeks ago I responded to the question “What is the best way for a first-timer to look for a job?” I think the advice I shared in that post applies equally well in your situation. Whether you are looking for a job or for an internship, an employer will consider you when you give them good reasons to do so. Those reasons can include attitude, motivation, intellect, passion, academic performance, prior experience, specific training, specific interests, etc. . . . the list can go on and on.
If you are not able to tell an employer why they should consider you for an internship, how can you expect them to figure it out? Be prepared to market yourself to prospective employers.
My final advice: Seek the counsel of your campus career center! I bet they will have some good advice and resources for you, as well!