The Trials And Tribulations Of Every Summer Internship

You go to a good school, you get good grades, and you’re what you would define as a people person. Clearly you’re the most qualified candidate to every internship that you’ve applied to. The costume you made completely out of duct tape for Halloween? That makes you a shoe-in for a fashion internship in the Big Apple with Diane von Furstenberg. You come up with a clever caption referencing the Amanda Show and the dancing lobsters on a foodstagram? Well hop on a place because you’re going to be the next big writer for SNL. This summer is going to solidify the fact that you are following the right career path and that life after college is going to be more than tolerable, but actually maybe enjoyable. It’s going to be the summer where you get the internship of your dreams.

But it’s not.

There were internships that you didn’t get even though you thought you nailed your final interview. There was that once in a lifetime interview that you missed because the email went to your spam folder. But more often than not, you didn’t even get the courtesy of a rejection letter.

The last few weeks of the semester come along and the only topic of conversation among your peers is their internships in all these new exciting cities. They complain about how their summer is going to entail working long hours for a Fortune 500 Company, but it’s okay because they’re making $30,000. You act happy for your friends because you are happy for them. You’re proud of their hard work that earned them the internship. You also try to hide the twinge of jealousy that stabs you like a knife. To cope you go into you room, call your mom and cry about how your life has no path. You can’t even get an internship, so clearly you won’t be getting a job once you graduate. You will be couch surfing and waiting tables. Or even worse, you’re going to have to move back home and live in your room that still has Twilight posters on the walls that remind you of your #TeamEdward phase.

Minimum wage will still be the source of your income as you go back to your job as a cashier at the grocery store in the strip mall across the street from your house. Your mom masks her slight disappointment that her youngest child isn’t an engineering major like her first born who got an internship with Microsoft by February of his junior year of college. She tells you how excited she is to have you home for the summer and lists all three of the (read: only) fun things to do in your town. She says not to give up hope quite yet even though you’re a week away from finals. She says she will try to pull some strings.

Two weeks, a reference from a Pilates instructor you’ve meet only 3 times, a personality test that also checks for dyslexia, and 5 (yes 5) interviews later you land an internship in a building down the street from your 1 terminal, 10 gate airport. The internship is with a software company for car dealerships; not quite up your ally considering last week you tried turning off your car before putting it in park, twice. You’re part of small marketing team so at least your voice will be heard. It’s going to be you who comes up with the great tagline that takes the automobile industry by storm.

What actually happens is you sit in your chair planning on how many bathroom breaks you can take to pass the time before your coworkers think you have digestive issues. You get assigned a task to revamp their social media efforts. But, they are hesitant to give you the precious Twitter password. To look productive you have to make an excel spreadsheet of customer Twitter handles to follow and go through it all over again to actually follow the customers when (and if) they decide to give you the password.

You realize how exhausting it is pretending to have something productive to do when they can’t come with any projects or tasks to assign you. You sit and wonder why fetching coffee gets such a bad rep if it’s giving you something to do. After you’ve watched every free tutorial video on all of the Microsoft Office and Adobe programs and you’ve played around with more fake pivot tables than you’d like to admit you just sit there and watch the clock. You make a countdown to your last day. Every 6 minutes you tell yourself that you’ve made $1.10. Mostly you think about the great experiences that your friends must be having as they are living much more exciting lives than you are right now.

And that may be true. The grass always seems greener on the other side. But they are also having some of the same issues you are. You need to realize some things about your internships. You are in intern. You’re not going to have a task at every minute of every workday. If the company had that much that needed to be done, they would’ve hired a full time employee. You are getting paid (and if you’re not I hope you survive indentured servitude keeping your wits about you). You are getting experience while some other friends don’t even have summer jobs. You are learning about how a company and an industry function. You are learning process from people with more experience and knowledge than you.

They shot down your brilliant tagline? Get over it. Just sit back and take notes for the time being. You absolutely hate everything about your internship? Well at least you know what you don’t want to do. There is another year for you to change your projected path whether it be location, position or even considering furthering your education. Use your time to think of ways to tweak your resume and turn this experience into a talking point for your next job interview. Don’t let yourself give up on the hope that life after college won’t totally suck. But in the meantime remember that you have a whole another year of college to keep fucking shit up with your best friends so no ragrets. TC mark

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