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So I'm a sophomore looking to apply for computer science internships for Summer 2016. I've been fortunate enough to have a paid internship the past summer, however there were a few issues.

It was my first job in this field and it was remote, all communication was done via slack, email, and skype. My communication skills needed work though, and so the internship ended at the end of the year with "tight budget" being cited as the reason (it was a small startup). My main issues were not "joining in the conversations" going on in slack, and not asking as many questions as I should have. I tend to be rather stubborn when it comes to problem solving and I try to solve it as independently as possible, however this can be to my detriment.

My question is, should I put them as a reference? At the end they did say they would be open for letting me use them as a reference or for letters of recommendation, but I worry that if they mention my communication skills not being up to snuff, it'll kill any internships opportunities before I even get to the interview stage.

I have worked on my skills since, working on a few open source and group projects, but I feel that excluding them as a reference would be suspicious, but including them would kill my chances. Thoughts?

  • Did you have any close relationships with anyone? Like your supervisor? The goal of a reference is a "Hey, this guy or gal who is applying is a great pick. Here is why A, B, C." So having someone like that as your reference would be best even if the internship ended. – Frank FYC Oct 12 '15 at 0:42
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My question is, should I put them as a reference?

You don't put jobs (or internships) as references - you put people as references. And you should never put anyone as a reference who hasn't agreed to be one for you and who you don't feel will say good things about you.

Talk with the appropriate individual at your previous internship. Ask if she/he will be a reference for you, and during your conversation, gauge if he/she will say good things about you or not.

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Include the internship in your resume, along with your work and accomplishments there, just like any other work experience on your resume.

In the recommendations section, include a person from the company you have interned with. Make sure the person has a nice knowledge about your work there, and can write around 4-5 nice lines about you.

In fact, give him/her a heads-up forehand about a possible mail from the company you have applied to. This can help them jot a few points as a draft, and don't send off a surprised, blunt looking recommendation.

In most cases than none, references always tend to say good words about you, unless you have done a very terrible work (in which case, you would definitely don't include them in the resume).

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I assume you're in the US? Most prior employer will simply state that you worked at the company. They will never share opinions about you and will only state facts. For example, they might say, "Yes Jim worked here during the timeframe of 2000 to 2010 and he was terminated on March 2010." Or they might say, "Jim worked from 2000 to 2010." Most likely they will not state the reason someone left or whether they were a good worker or not.

Now if you list a specific person as a reference, then that person may or may not say good/bad things about you. Now keep in mind they may something to the effect of, "Yes, I worked with Jim. I felt that while he was a good worker, he did not communicated very well and kept mostly to himself which sometimes created tension with his co-workers." As always make sure you talk to the person before listing them so they know to expect a phone call.

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