Advice for Students Who Feel Intimidated by Internships

It feels like everyone always stresses the importance of having an internship by your senior year of college. So like many people preparing for their last year of undergrad, I recently started being on the lookout for internship opportunities that I felt could really be useful to me and my career path. It really didn't feel like a big deal, scrolling through Handshake and LinkedIn, but then while looking through the requirements and roles for all these internship applications, it suddenly hit me. Internships are actually kind of terrifying.

They're not scary in that horror movie type of way, but they can definitely be intimidating. Looking at all the responsibilities listed for these internships positions started to make me question if I was good enough. Suddenly, I imagined myself in an office, having a list of tasks, and just sitting there with the horrifying realization that I don't know how to do anything.

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But then I took a step back from my imagined nightmare scenario and tried to think it through more logically. The point of an internship is to get more experience. Some companies might want you to have knowledge in applications like Photoshop or Excel, but they don't expect you to know everything right off the bat. If you did know everything, you wouldn't be there as an intern.

Besides the obvious networking and experience purposes, internships are actually really helpful in that they can help you figure out what you do or don't want to do after college. As I head into my last year and hear from graduating students, a big concern a lot of people seem to have is being at the end of their college career and still not knowing what it is they want to do. As intimidating as internships can feel sometimes, it might help to think of internships as the "test-run" for your future after college. Internships allow you to "try out" a career path without requiring you to fully commit to it, and given that a lot of internships are meant to only last a few months, it's not gonna be that the end of the world if you decide that this isn't what you want to do for the rest of your life.

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Lastly, even though you might still feel concerned about not being good enough for a certain internship position, there's absolutely no harm in applying. Most applications don't take up a whole lot of time, and you might be surprised to see how many companies call or email you back for an interview or even an opening. If anything, with every application that you submit and interview that you do, it's just more practice for the next position you try for.