It's ok for me not to have an internship this summer and here's why.
Throughout my undergrad years, I've turned into a resume-builder. I was the person always applying for every position, involved in multiple things at once, always looking for ways to achieve new feats, and develop my skills. I was lucky with interviews, more often than not getting the positions that I applied to and feeling confident at all times.
Junior year was a grueling wake-up call for me. My peers began getting summer internship offers as early as October while I was barely starting to look at postings. November came around and the big-name brands began setting deadlines for positions that many of my friends were competing for.
Going through an intense recruiting process for one brand, I came to a few realizations — to make it through the first round of selection, you often need to have a personal relationship with someone in the company. Sometimes the recruiting process can take only a few weeks, other times, months. Lots of times you won't even get a response to your application, period! Another harsh realization was that many marketing or communications jobs (even the paid ones) will most likely NOT lead to a job offer after graduation.
I was heartbroken when I found out that a position I had been interviewing and had been prepping for months was offered to another applicant in mid-March. Reconsidering my qualifications or lack thereof was a blow to my before-inflated ego. I began thinking about my values and my needs for the summer.
Why is there so much pressure on undergraduate students to have multiple internships, or at least an internship the summer before they graduate? Almost all entry-level jobs require experience these days but many internships are either unpaid or require prior experience.
Around April, the number of students announcing their post-graduation or summer plans on social media is at an all-time high. I know that I've seen these posts and felt less than or unhirable on multiple.
"What are your summer plans?" they ask.
When I reply that I don't have any, I'm often met with "reassuring" remarks about how they're sure that I'll find an internship soon.
I find myself explaining myself to my acquaintances that barely care. There are other ways that I can fill my time in other meaningful ways than having a crazy cool internship. I can practice self-love by focusing on exercise, mentorship, hobbies, saving money, traveling, studying for the GRE, and spending time with friends and family. I've realized I barely know what field I want to go into so how am I expected to have an internship this summer in that field?
I've come to accept that it's okay for me not to have an internship this summer because it is not what I need right now. And to those struggling with a similar situation, I hope that you find what you need this summer and can meet those pesky questions with confidence.