I Don’t Have a Summer Internship and That’s Okay

Entering my junior year, the first thing on my mind (besides the global pandemic) was finding an internship for the summer. Like many other college students, I have been told several times that a summer internship following my junior year is crucial to finding a job right after graduation. Thus, I spent a lot of time last summer redesigning my resume, working on cover letters, and researching think tanks and other companies. By the time the fall semester ended, I had applied for a handful and now towards the end of the spring semester, I have applied for more than I’m willing to count. While I’ve received interviews here and there, I have yet to solidify any opportunity for this summer. If I had heard this six months ago, I would be freaking out. But now as summer approaches, I’ve realized the possibility that I might not have an internship this summer. And I’m okay with that. 

woman looking at a computer while wearing a mask Photo by engin akyurt from Unsplash

Like a lot of students, I have put so much pressure on myself to maintain solid grades while actively participating in my extracurricular activities despite the chaotic times we live in. I’ve expected myself to be as productive as I was before the pandemic, even while adjusting to an entirely new college experience. Recently, I’ve realized this expectation of perfection and normalcy isn’t and was never reasonable. Things aren’t normal this semester. Just because I’ve returned to in-person learning at my school’s campus doesn’t mean the stress of COVID is completely gone. Being away from my family has also been tough as they were always there during my time studying remotely. It’s been a hard adjustment. I’ve realized recently that putting so much pressure on myself whether it's with schoolwork or my sport or my internship plans just isn’t reasonable. I think we can remember to be a little nicer to ourselves during these times. Essentially, it's okay to not always be at our peak performance. And it's okay for plans to not work out exactly the way we thought they should. 

I’ve also realized that not having an internship this summer could be a blessing in disguise. I would have more freedom to try other jobs, take some new courses, or complete some professional extension projects with my school. I’d also live back home with my family and enjoy the time I have with them. Just because I might not have an internship does not mean my entire summer will be a waste; it just means I’ll be able to devote more time to other things I care about. I can still gain important experiences and learn things even without the structure or prestige that an internship could provide. Ultimately, not having a summer internship does not mean my professional career is going to be severely hampered. It’s not the end of the world. 

Woman reading on windowsill with sunset in background Photo by Yuri Efremov from Unsplash

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’ve given up looking for work opportunities this summer or that I’ve lost any and all hope for an internship. Internships are amazing opportunities to learn about different fields and to gain experience in professional environments. Simply applying for a variety of internships taught me about the challenges of searching for jobs and the basics of cover letter writing and interviewing. I don’t regret applying for so many and spending so much of my time on my applications. I learned from those experiences. 

However, I do regret putting so much pressure on myself to get these internships. I also regret feeling in some way that my value was reliant on having a job and having every part of my life planned and figured out. If there is anything I think the pandemic has taught me, it's to become comfortable with uncertainty. And right now, while I don’t have secure plans, I’m learning to look at this situation with a different perspective and the confidence that I will find the right opportunities at the right time.