Everyone, we made it to April, and you know what that means: It's time to solidify your summer plans. For those of us who are beginning the endeavor of adulthood, it's time to lock down that summer internship. This is no easy feat; there are a million people applying to all of the same companies that you want to work at, and there are a million companies to apply to. We all go through the same process: Sending our polished resumes to hundreds of different companies, sending follow up emails to the places we really like, waiting for responses and mostly not getting a lot. It's safe to say that finding a summer internship is really hard. Here are the top 10 hardest things about finding a summer internship.
1. Getting Responses
You've sent the best version of your resume to your favorite companies, and you've even written follow up emails so that people will maybe be interested in a phone interview. From this moment forward, you check your email constantly, and whenever you get an email, you jump at the little red notification next to the email icon. You've done everything right, and all of the things you've been told to do by your parents and your career services counselor. Still, why won't anybody respond to me?
2. Phone or Skype Interviews
If you're lucky, an HR representative will finally reach out to you and set up some type of a phone interview. You're so excited, until you realize the HR representative graduated a few years before you, and you haven't even begun the interview process yet; it's April 15th. For those of us who are abroad, we can't use our cell phones, have to send long drawn out emails explaining that we're abroad and will need to use FaceTime audio or Skype for the interview. Most of the time, they are quite flexible about the five or six hour time difference and the fact that you'll be using FaceTime audio, except when you miscalculate the time difference and suddenly get a Skype call from New York City when you haven't yet showered from your run in the park. Of course, don't get me started with the poor WIFI in the apartment, so you can barely understand what the girl is saying because it keeps breaking up. How many times can you really ask somebody to repeat a question before they hang up?
3. Video and Essay Questions
Some of the applications that you have to fill out for internships require a few essay questions or a self-recorded video where you verbally answer questions. The essay questions aren't difficult; they ask you the basic questions of why you're interested in the internship and how you feel you would be a good fit for the company.
Unfortunately, when some innovative company comes along and asks you to record yourself answering those questions, things get a little more complicated. First, you have to figure out how to say the right thing on camera by writing our your answer on a word doc and putting it on the screen next to the box that shows your face being recorded. Next, you have to find the perfect standard background that doesn't distract from you and seems professional enough. Once you finish recording, you spend a good 10 minutes trying to decide whether you should play it back or not because either way you won't be happy with it. Naturally, once you decide to play it back, the only thing you can focus on is how many times you said, "Um," played with your hair and stumbled over your words.
4. Perfecting Your Resume
The art of resume writing is no easy task. There are so many rules and regulations to follow, and by the end of the whole process, you don't even know what's on your resume anymore. Your resume can't be over one page, your resume has to be in a certain layout and your resume has to say certain things on it with certain categories. It's like a major headache to try and write the thing. These rules end up being a huge problem, especially as you get older and gain more experience; then you have to start picking and choosing things to put on there and to leave off. Once you finally think you've made the perfect resume to send off, your parents find three little mistakes that probably won't even matter in the long run. Lets face it; it's almost impossible to have the perfect resume without at least one person telling you that something is wrong or incorrect. What's the point of sending it anyway? So somebody can judge you based on a piece of paper that clearly doesn't express your wonderful personality and charmingly good looks?
When you finally get that email with a phone interview request, you realize you know absolutely nothing about the company you're about to intern for. No matter how many times your parents nag you, you can't be bothered to do the research to learn more about the company until about 10 minutes before the interview. You figure it'll take about seven minutes to get the gist of what this company is about, until you get on the company website, where their mission statement and description of their work is written in old English and you can't decipher it. You look around the website for more clues, but you can't seem to grasp who they are. You do some googling and find enough information to get by during the interview. That is until the interviewer asks what you know about the company, and your answer is totally off.
6. Online Applications
Due to misleading websites like GlassDoor.com, Intern.com and other alike websites, us college students are somehow terribly offended when we apply to online opportunities and never hear back from any of them. In an attempt to be productive and useful, we search for summer internships and stumble upon these websites that have great opportunities and quick and easy applications to fill out. After we've applied to about 50 of these, we feel accomplished and excited for what could come next, but of course, nothing ever does. After a month, you start to realize those 50 online applications were a terrible waste of your time, and you will probably never hear from those companies with those wonderful opportunities ever again. Looks like it's back to square one then.
7. Second Round Interviews
For those of us who are lucky enough to actually make it to the second round of interviews for an internship, this is when the real test comes in. Interviewing is really difficult; you always want to say the best things about yourself without sounding like you're bragging. No matter how many different tips we get from our families, career services counselors or friends, you're never actually prepared for an interview. Even practicing multiple times with other people or alone in the mirror doesn't quite do the trick. You never really know how an interview will be or what types of questions the interviewer will ask you until you're being asked the question. Your answer will also never be the same as when you rehearsed it with your mom over FaceTime. Every answer you give to the interviewer will be different than what you thought you'd say. Most of the time, you'll leave the interview forgetting the entire thing and wondering who the person was that was supposed to be you in that conversation.
Obviously you're not the only person in the world looking for an internship, so there's a lot of competition out there. Unfortunately, sometimes this competition is closer than you think; sometimes your friends are your competition, whether you like it or not. The hardest part about being aware of your competition is trying to figure out what makes you stand out, and that question is often harder than you think. Of course you think you stand out; you're you, and who is as great as you? Sadly, you're painfully aware that corporate America doesn't function that way, so you have to put together a great cover letter that will try to convey to them how great you are and how you stand out from a crowd of 100 other 20 year olds with the same major and work experience. Unfortunately your charmingly good looks and quick wit won't get you out of this one.
10. Getting Hired
It may seem farfetched right now, but one day this will happen to you; you will be the happiest person alive. The email you get offering the internship will be the best thing that happens to you in a long time, and every time you open your phone for a week you'll read that email at least twice before you do anything else. This is such an exciting moment for you! You respond to the email, over eager and accept the offer almost immediately before you give it any good thought about what you'll be doing all summer. After a few days, the honeymoon phase will fade, and you'll slowly start to realize that this means another summer of getting copious amounts of Starbucks coffee and endless hours at the copy machine. What have you gotten yourself into now?