How do I explain a prolonged absence on my resume or an abnormally low GPA in one semester on my internship applications?

“Life seldom goes ‘as scheduled,’ and your academic career is no exception. Be transparent and authentic and explain that you experienced a new cycle in the ebbs and flows of academic performance and learned that you’re resilient, u-turns are allowed, and you now understand the corrective steps and work necessary to rebound and maintain resolve.”

Nicole Jackson
Head of Digital Transformation Catalyst

“Explain an absence or your GPA truthfully. Be direct (to keep it short) and prepare 1-3 sentences on the topic to anticipate the question. End with how you’ve learned XYZ from that and how you don’t anticipate it will impact what you’re applying for.

Jeanie Nguyen
Healthcare Strategist Gilead

“Depends on the audience of the application. If it’s a smaller program, you might want to reach out to the coordinators and chat with them about the matter. Honesty can go a long way. If you must write about the matter in your application, you could also briefly state the challenge (which caused the lower performance) and how you overcame it. Now, if you have several semesters of less than stellar grades, you may need to be more particular about the opportunities you apply for. Some are very competitive and you may not have a very good chance. Others may be more open to students with diverse experiences. I was laid off from a job once and was unemployed for about 8 months. I explain the event and the work I did in the role since my departure was involuntary. It usually is not an issue because I’d already graduated and I spent the 8 months being as productive as possible to find my next gig. As an undergrad, you may need be open to different types of internships which might have more flexible selection criteria.”

Carla Cotwright-Williams
Technical Director at the Department of Defense

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