The Unfortunate Reality of the Internship World

John Mayer’s song “Say” creeps slowly into my ears, gradually waking me up. I am greeted by the sunshine and my lovely, little New York apartment. I have an amazing view of 5th avenue and I hear the buzz of the taxis below. I put on my favorite summer dress that is bright and flowy, and dazzle my cheeks with blush. I am excited for the day.

I walk ten blocks uptown and two blocks across town, and arrive at my office. I have been working at this job for almost a month now, yet my passion for the company has yet to die. I am greeted by my friend who works at the receptionist desk, and sit down at my perfectly organized cubicle. I make eye contact with the other intern, who happens to be an extremely hot college guy, and I immediately imagine our marriage and what our children will look like. My boss catches my attention and calls me into her office, and praises me for the wonderful work I have been doing over the past few months. She suggests that I might want to continue to work at the company next summer, and a smile appears on my face. I walk out of her office, and I feel like a celebrity. A paid internship, a cute guy, an amazing New York City apartment, and an offer for a job next summer – my life is beyond perfect.

OK. Let’s snap back to real life.

I wish that was my life. I would give anything to have a paid internship in NYC at a company that I actually like. Yet, we all know that that life is beyond unrealistic and basically will never happen.

I am a sophomore in college, and I NEED to find an internship for this summer. “All you need is experience”, is what I have been hearing nonstop from my parents, siblings, and career officers. However, there is one major issue with this – well actually two:

1. Finding an internship is literally harder than climbing Mount Everest

Navigate is practically pointless because if I attempt to find a job that is remotely related to my field of interest, all I get is an offer to do research for some random company that I’ve never heard of. LinkedIn is better – but not even close to perfect. My friends are in competition with each other to get the most “links” or whatever, but I have lost all motivation. LinkedIn is good in that it gives you a list of jobs that line up with your interests. For example, I can be exploring one million internships offered in NYC, and I might find a perfect match for me. However, all dreams are crushed when you scroll down to the “Qualifications” part of the post. “Please have 5-7 years of experience in this field”. I am sorry, but I am 20 years old, and I can tell you that I was definitely not working as an executive assistant when I was 13 years old. It’s like that feeling you get when you send a risky text to a crush of yours, and you have hope that you might fall madly in love, and then he or she says that they would rather just be friends. I have experienced that feeling, and posts of LinkedIn replicate that WONDERFUL feeling. I will repeat: finding an internship is literally harder than climbing Mount Everest

2. If you are lucky enough to find that perfect internship, you might not even get hired 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but getting hired is even harder than finding the internships. First, you have to create a resume and a cover letter. Your resume is easy enough to write because you basically exaggerate everything you have ever done EVER. I was a lifeguard and sat on a plastic chair on my phone for the entire summer. However, on my resume, I have managed to turn that job description into something that makes me sound like a hero. With the resume done, the cover letter is the next step. I don’t know if it is just me, but writing cover letters is beyond difficult. I have written one and it took me 10 hours to write 3 paragraphs – enough said. Once you send this stuff in, it is a waiting game that will drive you insane. You will probably never hear back, but with the off chance you do, you will be offered an interview. I have stage frights, so I guess I am thankful that I have never been offered an interview (HA.). There are so many steps to the hiring process, and if you think this internship is perfect for you, I bet thousands of other college kids thought the same thing. The competition is unbeatable, and the hiring managers are probably looking for someone who spends their Friday night in the library, but unless dancing on a table is classified as studying, then my friends and I don’t fit their desired applicant. Companies are looking for that perfect match – someone who will really enhance their brand. The chances that you are that perfect match for that perfect internship is practically zero.

OK – now that I have crushed your dreams and made you want to depend on of your parents for the rest of your life, I will try to instill some sort of encouragement. I have applied to many, many internships, and I haven’t heard a single piece of good news, BUT this just means that I wasn't a perfect fit for this company. It doesn't mean I am a horrible person or I am going to be homeless for the rest of my life. It just means that the company is probably looking for an Econ major and not an Art History major. I have learned that you can’t take this job process personally. It’s not about you – it’s about the company. Also, I have learned that, whether or not I want to, I have to apply to one million jobs before I hear one piece of good news. It is a long, hard, stressful process, but with patience and thick skin, you will hopefully find that perfect internship for you.

One last thing. Everyone keeps telling me that it doesn't matter what I do over the summer; it just matters that I get a job. I don’t know if I agree with this. I want to do something creative, and finding an internship in the creative world is quite difficult. However, this doesn't mean I am going to accept an internship that has me doing research for some scientist, or being an executive assistant for some guy on Wall St. I don’t demand much for an internship, but I just don’t want to spend my summer doing something that I’m not passionate in. I know that I have been a Debby Downer throughout my entire monologue, but I encourage all of us to find something that we are passionate about, and not to just drop to our knees and beg for any job we can get. I mean I still haven’t found a job, so who really knows, but I am really trying to end this story with some sort of motivation. Good luck in the real world – we are all going to need it!