Unqualified. It seems to be a pretty common word amongst my generation. Anytime we apply for a job or an organization or a scholarship, we convince ourselves that we’re “unqualified” for whatever it is we’re applying for. This generation, or at least the people I’m surrounded with, have this idea that we aren’t enough unless we’ve had every internship and every leadership position possible.
This standard is ridiculous. Everyone has to start somewhere – no one is born with a perfectly filled out résumé, and even if they were, we have to stop with this idea that there’s some pathway that creates a perfectly qualified candidate. There’s so many unique experiences that can define a person, and not all of them fit on a résumé. But this doesn’t mean that someone’s unqualified or that they won’t get the position; you hear crazy stories all the time about how people with no experience get these really awesome jobs just by going for it.
(Regardless of how you feel about him, Trump got the job of President with absolutely zero relevant experience. If he can do it, you can do it too.)
There’s always a different perspective to take. Everything’s a relevant experience if you learn from it. And sometimes just having a bomb work ethic is good enough to make up for the fact that your résumé is less-than-stellar.
I’ll fully admit that I’m a victim to getting caught in this trap. I’m currently in the process of applying for a number of internships in Washington D.C. for the summer, and every time I start an application, I start to worry about whether or not I should even be bothering to apply. Why am I applying for these amazing national organizations when I haven’t ever interned for even a smaller version of one of them? I’m sure there’s going to be hundreds of other people who have these long records of political activism and who are flashier and have a better-looking application.
It’s a dangerous pit to get stuck in, and I’m certainly no expert at averting psychological barriers. But do you know how people get in the positions to have a great application? They just go for it. Honestly, what’s the worse that can happen? You get rejected and feel like an idiot? If you don’t bother applying, you’ll probably also feel like an idiot, except now you’ve got this little nagging “what-if” on your shoulder.
I’m proposing something: delete the word “unqualified” from your vocabulary. When you start feeling like you’re nowhere near good enough or experienced enough for a position, rethink it: I’m not unqualified. I’m uniquely-qualified because I’ve had nontraditional experiences that will make me good at this. That’s what I’ll be telling myself as I submit all of these applications this week. I hope you do too.