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You’re Not Behind: Lessons From the Lost Summer Internship

This summer was a weird one for everyone, I’m sure. I had so many travel plans to go visit friends in different cities and I applied to so many different internships. Last semester, I pictured  my summer to be the best, most career focused summer yet. Well, that didn’t happen. Most of the internships I applied to cancelled their summer internship program well before they got to the interview process, and with others, it no longer became practical for me to be able to attend them with the state of the world and I ultimately had to withdraw my application. Some of the ones I applied to I didn’t even end up hearing back from at all.

For the first part of the summer, I spent way too much time beating myself up over the fact that I didn’t have a job, and I didn’t really have anything to do. I blamed myself for the circumstances, telling myself that if I had only tried harder, if I had only wanted it more, then I wouldn’t be in this situation. I started to resent all of the free time that I had, and I spent way too much time imagining what I should have been doing rather than actually doing something productive (or anything at all that wasn’t staring at the ceiling and being mad at myself). It didn’t help to see my sister go to work every day over the summer and to check LinkedIn and see all of my peers announcing the cool internship opportunities that they got to partake in for the summer, remotely or otherwise.

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It took me way too long to realize that I thought that everyone else other than me had cool job opportunities only because the only people who were posting their summer plans were people who actually had something to do. People who were in the same boat as I was with nothing to do were not posting about it on LinkedIn or Twitter; after all, how exciting can a “I’ve been sitting on the couch watching an HGTV marathon this summer instead of an internship!” announcement be? Remembering that people only shared their accomplishments and the best parts of their lives on social media was the first step into accepting that I am not behind and that it’s not a dealbreaker for future employers that I wasn’t able to get a cool job this summer.

Another step of accepting that I’m not behind and that I shouldn’t be beating myself up over not having an internship came from the word that I truly got sick of hearing for the past few months: unprecedented. To this day, I’m still begging companies and news outlets to find a new word to use because of how many times I’ve heard the term “unprecedented.” But it is a word that helped me out. This is a time period like no other before, and people are still struggling to adapt to this new environment and figure out where they belong in the world. And it’s okay to be a part of that group! I’m definitely a part of that group, and once I finally realized that there was nothing I could do about this pandemic and there was no way that I could have seen it coming, I slowly started to accept the fact that it’s okay that I didn’t have a cool summer internship to add to my resume. 

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We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. There is no reason for us to have our lives fully put together or to think that our lives have to be exactly the same as they were before or that we had to hold ourselves to the same academic and career standards. Once I realized that, I spent the summer taking a break, doing a few house-and-pet-sitting gigs, but nothing too important or too interesting. There’s always going to be that nagging voice in the back of my head, telling me that I missed out this summer and that no company will hire me after graduation because of the summer-long gap in my resume. I just shush that voice and remind it that we are living through a global pandemic, and any company that is not flexible enough to work around that gap isn’t a company that I would want to work for anyways. 

Overall, this jobless summer was a good reminder to myself to slow down and that not all of life has to pass by driving in the fast lane at 70 miles per hour. Sometimes, it’s okay to take a deep breath and walk through life using the trail in the woods. 

Jane Hilger

Notre Dame '22

Jane is a junior English and Political Science double major. She is originally from Ellicott City, Maryland, and she used to live in Lyons Hall, but now she is a resident of Pangborn Hall. She is an avid reader, writer, and watcher of bad reality tv.
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