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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Delaware chapter.

It is around this time – winter and early spring – that many college juniors will pursue more professional opportunities as a way to enhance their resume, increase their network, expand their knowledge and figure out what career path they want to pursue. 

I am one of these juniors. After three summers of working as a camp counselor in Connecticut, I am turning my attention to the professional realm of work, hoping to work as an intern with my congressional representatives, with high-profile businesses like Morgan Stanley or with a lesser-known think tank such as New America. I have applied to 9 internships so far with no responses yet, only denials.

The good news: the denials come from applications to companies that I don’t really care about; I just wanted to throw my hat in the ring and get comfortable with applying. The bad news: I have yet to hear anything about the internships I really want – an internship with my congressional representative, Jahana Hayes, an internship as a Youth Case Manager with the International Rescue Committee and a research internship at the Urban Institute. It has only been a few weeks since I’ve applied, but patience has never been my strong suit. I want answers now, so I’ll know where I stand sooner rather than later. To be clear, the sooner the rejections come in, the sooner I can move forward to new opportunities.

What makes the bad news even harder is that all over LinkedIn, I see my peers, both from high school and from college, obtaining these summer internships and getting the experience that I have yet to gain for myself. Anytime I see the words “I am so excited to announce…” or “I am honored to say…” my heart sinks a little, for their success makes me wonder why I haven’t found my own summer internship yet. And as the summertime approaches, I feel more desperate, more restless because the longer I go without an internship, the more likely I’ll be back in my summer camp job that is, while fulfilling, not going to get me the experience in the professional environment that I need.

Then there is also the feeling of shame, of embarrassment. Where everyone, it seems, is posting on LinkedIn of their acquiring a summer internship, I have yet to do so. I don’t want to have to tell “insert-name-of-classmate-who-interned-at-JPMorgan-here” that I spent the summer working as a camp counselor for the fourth year in a row. I want to say that I spent my summer interning with Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. It’s what I want to do. It’s the experience that I want, and it’s paid! What more could I want?

It was during the winter that my professor told my classmates and I about imposter syndrome. Jessica Bennett, who wrote an article about the phenomenon in The New York Times, described it as a “nagging feeling that you’re not good enough, that you don’t belong, that you don’t deserve the job, the promotion, the book deal, the seat at the table,” and all of these are feelings that I have experienced with varying degrees of intensity over the past 6 weeks. 

I know that I have the experience to be good in any of the positions that I have applied for, but there is always that feeling in the back of my mind that I’m not good enough, that there will be someone else who is better for the job. This easily translates to a devaluing of my own worth and feeling like I will never be good enough, which will only lead to a summer of doing something I don’t want to do, losing out on much-needed experience and not having a job after graduation. It is so hard to shove those feelings aside and remember my own worth, especially when, as I mentioned before, it seems like everyone and their mother is getting an internship.

The good news is that there are ways to fight imposter syndrome. Bennett, in her article, suggests making a list of 10 things that demonstrate how you are just as qualified for the role you are seeking as anyone else. A simple positive affirmation, such as “I’m amazing,” and adding your name to it – “Haley is amazing” – can have an incredible effect on how you perceive yourself. Owning your accomplishments and visualizing success can also have a profound effect on fighting imposter syndrome.

As the summertime approaches, I will continue these little tactics of reassurance until 1 of 2 things happen: I get a summer internship or I don’t. But through it all, I will remember that despite how posts on LinkedIn might make me feel, I am good enough.

Haley Carr

Delaware '22

Haley is a junior at the University of Delaware majoring in International Relations with a concentration in Diplomacy and a specialization in Europe. She is minoring in Human Development/Family Sciences and Journalism. She hopes work with underprivileged or displaced children after serving in the Peace Corps upon graduation.
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