The Problem With Internships

The Problem With Internships

Please remind of how what I am doing day-to-day is not technically "real life" experience.
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“You’ll never know if you don’t try.”

This principle is perfectly applicable to finding out whether or not you like raw seafood or can pull off red lipstick. In contrast, I think it is an ideology that has been pinned to the likes of career pursuit, and specifically for college students, navigating their soon-to-be-figured worlds of study, to the likes of internships, and wrongfully so.

In this final stretch of my sophomore year, I’ve spent countless hours begrudgingly and haphazardly sending my resume out to almost every publishing house and magazine editorial office I could find, checking my email neurotically in hopes of a single response. I got one: a rejection notice from Penguin Random House. Otherwise, responses have either not been made, or they’ve been questions about how I would feel accepting an opportunity to work 16-24 hours a week, unpaid, for 16 weeks. While I would love to surrender my barista position in the name of intern work, it’s not something that seems quite plausible. I could, hypothetically, work 3 days a week as a barista, and 2-3 days a week as an intern, never take a vacation, never sleep, perhaps never eat, and then return to school in the fall, wondering how in the hell I could balance working 6 days a week and going to school 2 days a week— making for a total of eight days in a week? It’s not scientifically possible.

The expectation of students to be able to give up their summers, which they worked tirelessly to reach, in the name of unpaid job experience, is atrocious. I may not be the next Mark Twain, but I am an objectively hard worker (as my resume highlights), and taking advantage of such a facet by trying to lure me into working three 8 hour days without so much as a minimum wage paycheck makes me not want to involve myself in the people in my own field. I think of the work I could potentially be doing: punching numbers into a system, filing paperwork, exercising my coffee-order memory skills, and I wonder how any of that at all is representative of my skill set.

I understand there’s this sort of 'How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying' mindset that all college students are expected to take on as they enter their field (especially a more liberal arts-centric one), but for many and most, what ends up happening is that they take this job, they’re fine at it (because how can you be anything more than fine at filing names into a computer?), and they perform similar work for the rest of their life, never once given the opportunity to showcase what they worked so hard at in college. Even the most interactive of internships can be less-than-fruitful if you don’t get paid to do them, and that leaves so many kids who work other jobs unable to make time in their schedule to work for no pay.

Circumstantially, not everyone is capable of taking on a position to gain experience alone. It’s really hard to work and go to school full-time. For most, it’s impossible, which is why so many kids don’t have jobs when they go away to school. And that’s good for those kids, and hopefully they fill that time they could be flipping patties or brewing coffee doing good for their academics, joining clubs and working on-campus activities. For those that do work, there should be a different standard of on-campus participation. I make time for school, for theater, for writing, and for work, but also I sleep four hours a night and power through on several cups of coffee.

Penguin Random House, please remind me why you didn’t want to give me a chance? Was it because I’m not in the democratic socialist club, or is it because I don’t have a polished portfolio and a 4.0? Should I have generated a third arm somewhere in my own evolution to be able to balance all of the work that I have to do in order to be good enough for your establishment? Or was there just no positions open, all filled with little hoity-toities from private schools upstate who get to sublet a $1500-a-month room in SoHo for the summer, still finding time in their schedule to make it out to the Hamptons a few times before returning to classes? Will they get the internship? And then after college, the job?

I don’t mean to paint myself out to be a charity case: I have loving and supportive parents, and I am certain that if I whined and begged, I would be able to find a way to make an unpaid internship work and wallow in the misery of refilling printer toner for 8 weeks. But I know, and I think my parents know, that I am better than to subject myself to that sort of misery. I would rather work hard as an independent because ultimately I’m entering a field that is so rooted in the independence of effort and work ethic, and then see the fruits of those labors. I would rather slave over getting my own computer to work, sharing stories and workshopping and getting my own, perhaps not an adult world, but real-time hands-on practice with people, than be an office monkey for my whole summer and receive zero retribution.

Experience is subjective, and what I can’t understand about internships is how they function as the only gateway to a field already so narrowed by demand. All circumstances are different, and whether you’re writing pieces to be unpublished at an office in Midtown, or you’re at home putting passion into your own private works that you self-publish, you’re nevertheless gaining experience in time management and proving your own capabilities. Either way, there’s no payment, and either way, you come out having achieved something. But, in only one way have you done it from the comfort of your home computer, cocooned in blankets, still in your pajamas. In that respect, internships can kiss my behind.

Cover Image Credit: rawpixel / Pixabay

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To The Girl Who Isn't Graduating On Time, It Won't Feel Any Less Amazing When You Do

Graduating is something to be proud of no matter how long it takes you.

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To the girl who isn't graduating college "on time,"

I promise, you will get there eventually, and you will walk across that graduation stage with the biggest smile on your face.

You may have a different journey than the people you grew up with, and that is OKAY. You may have some twists and turns along the way, a few too many major changes, a life change, you may have taken most of a semester off to try to figure your life out, and you're doing the best you can.

Your family and your friends don't think less of you or your accomplishments, they are proud of your determination to get your degree.

They are proud of the woman you are becoming. They don't think of you as a failure or as someone any less awesome than you are. You're getting your degree, you're making moves towards your dreams and the life that you have always wanted, so please stop beating yourself up while you see people graduating college on time and getting a job or buying a car.

Your time will come, you just keep doing what you need to do in order to get on that graduation stage.

Your path is set out for you, and you will get there with time but also with patience. The place you're at right now is where you are supposed to be. You are going to thrive and you are going to be the best version of you when you graduate and start looking for a company that you will be proud to work for. Don't look on social media and feel less than, because at least you're still working towards your degree that you are finally passionate about. You will be prepared. You will be ready once the time comes and you cross the stage, move away, and start your journey in whatever field you're going into.

Don't question yourself, and be confident in your abilities.

With love,

A girl who isn't graduating on time

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I'm Not The Person I Was In High School And I'm Not Sorry I Changed

I'm sorry, the old me can't come to the phone right now.

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If those who knew me in high school hung out with me now, they probably wouldn't recognize me. If my friends from college hung out with me around two years ago, they probably wouldn't recognize me. It's safe to say I've changed... a lot. I definitely find the change to be for the better and I couldn't be happier with the person I've become.

In high school, I would sit at home every night anxiously waiting to leave and go out. Now, honestly, going out is the last thing I want to do any night of the week. While everyone in college is at a fraternity party or at the bars, I prefer to sit at home on the couch, watching Netflix with my boyfriend. That's an ideal night for me and it is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do a couple of years ago. There's nothing wrong with going out and partying, it's just not what I want to do anymore.

I craved attention in high school. I went to the parties and outings so I could be in Snapchats and photos, just so people would know I was there. I hung out with certain groups of people just so I could say I was "friends" with so-and-so who was so very popular. I wanted to be known and I wanted to be cool.

Now, I couldn't care less. I go to the bars or the parties if I really feel like it or if my friends make me feel bad enough for never going anywhere that I finally decide to show up. It's just not my scene anymore and I no longer worry about missing out.

If you could look back at me during my junior year of high school, you probably would've found me searching for the best-ranked party schools and colleges with the best nearby clubs or bars. Now, you can find me eating snacks on the couch on a Friday night watching the parties through other peoples' Snapchats.

Some may say that I'm boring now, and while I agree that my life is a little less adventurous now than it was in high school, I don't regret the lifestyle changes I've made. I feel happier, I feel like a better person, I feel much more complete. I'm not sorry that I've changed since high school and I'm not sorry that I'm not living the typical "college lifestyle." I don't see anything wrong with that life, it's just not what makes me happy and it's not what I want to do anymore.

I've become a different person since high school and I couldn't be happier about it. I have a lot that's contributed to the change, but my boyfriend definitely was the main factor as he showed me that staying in can be a million times better than a night out. My interests and my social cravings have completely transitioned into that of an 80-year-old grandma, but I don't regret it.

Change doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can bring a lot more happiness and comfort. The transition from high school to college is drastic, but you can also use it as an opportunity to transition from one lifestyle to another. I don't regret the lifestyle flip I made and I couldn't be less apologetic about it.

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