As someone who began interning before entering school, I’m here to say interning is not the most important thing to be worried about right now. At many elite schools there is a lot of pressure to intern during the summer as many students do. However, just because others are interning doesn’t mean everyone has to. Taking a step back from what pressures one may feel around interning – here are some reasons why you shouldn’t worry that much about it.
It would be impossible to have a conversation about the problems with internships without talking about money, or the lack thereof. CNBC found 40% of internships available to college students are unpaid. With so many internships being unpaid, it is likely in one’s best financial interest to work a paid job instead. Making $9 an hour at a restaurant will leave one in better financial shape than an unpaid internship that likely will not make or break your career. Not to mention, working at a restaurant provides a tremendous amount of skills.
While this is not true at all schools, at GWU there is an incredible amount of flexibility with academic schedules making it relatively easy to intern during the school year. It is not always ideal to have to work around a job and school. But it can help justify an unpaid internship because you’re already at the location and it can likely count for credit. With such flexibility during the school year, you shouldn’t stress about fitting all of your dream internships into 3 summers.
The pressure to intern each summer is definitely present at GWU, but don’t do something because you feel this pressure. Many people at GWU will have great internships this summer, however, not everyone interns. It can feel like it sometimes but at the end of the day it is about your experience and what is best for you not anyone else’s. Along with this, don’t intern just to say you did it. Ask yourself what experience you hope to gain from an internship so you can take full advantage of the opportunity. If you intern just to put it on your resume, you’re taking a spot from someone who probably would’ve really valued the experience.
Every student has a different experience, but don’t shape yours around what your peers are doing.