The Stress Of Searching For The Perfect Internship
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The Stress Of Searching For The Perfect Internship, As Told By College Students

College students need to start getting professional experience sooner or later, why not now?

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istockphoto.com

One of the most stressful questions to ask a college student is "What are you doing this summer?" The search for a summer internship is relentless, even if you start the process earlier than others. But it is not the reality of having a summer internship that stresses college students so much, but rather the unrealistic expectations associated with such internship and other professional opportunities.

For example, as an undergraduate student interested in law, most law firms do not usually offer many internship positions for undergraduate students, especially if you are entering your sophomore or junior year. Additionally, most internships require multiple years of experience in that specific career field in order to qualify for an interview. Yet, how can years of previous experience be automatically expected when most undergraduate students are unsure of what career path they want to pursue? Some undergraduate students do not even have a specific major let alone a binding career plan for themselves.

When companies tirelessly demand these unrealistic expectations of undergraduate students, specifically underclassmen, their list of requirements worsen the concerning levels of stress and anxiety amongst college students. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 61% of college students who seek counseling services report being affected by anxiety, 49% to depression, and 45% to stress. Because stress and anxiety levels for college students are increasing at unprecedented rates, the pressures and frustration of landing the perfect summer internship only negatively contribute to these statistics.

As a result, any company, corporation, firm, etc. offering internship positions to college students need to acknowledge the effects of their job descriptions and guidelines on an undergraduate student's mental stability. Furthermore, companies must improve their standards for internship positions in order to grant undergraduate students first-hand experience that will gradually expand their knowledge of the career field of their choice. Officials responsible for reading and reviewing internship applications should considerably and realistically review the applications of undergraduate college students. These students have to gain professional experience in their career field sooner or later, so why not now?

Additionally, the frantic search for a summer internship perpetuates false expectations for an undergraduate's resume. Nowadays, college students are expected to be over-involved in various organizations. These extracurriculars, whether they be leadership positions, work-study options, or internships all contribute towards the image of the "perfect resume". This picture-perfect resume perpetuates the unrealistic expectations for undergraduate students, emphasizing their already high levels of stress and anxiety.

Realistically, a freshman or sophomore in college lacks years of experience working in their career field, but these students should not feel stressed or anxious about the lack of experience represented on their resume. There is a way to promote healthy competition as long as that competition is realistic. Underclassmen should not feel stress because they do not have the same resume as upperclassmen.

In moments of stress, college students need to realize what expectations are within their reach. Having multiple years of experience in their career fields by their sophomore year of college is extremely unlikely for underclassmen. However, students are not wholly responsible for recognizing this during their internship and job search. Companies, corporations, and hiring officials should be responsible for addressing realistic expectations for internship candidates. This recognition will address rising levels of stress and aniety amongst college students, spreading awareness about growing mental stability concerns.

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