Remember when summer was all about freedom? You could spend your days doing whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, because no one expected anything from you. Summer is not that simple anymore. In college, you can not just turn off your brain and relax at a summer camp. Now, summer is all about internships and jobs. You have to be productive in order to prepare yourself for the future, gain new skills and have something to put on your resume. Unlike summer camps, you cannot just research, find an internship and sign up for it. You have to apply, interview, do any necessary tasks, then wait an agonizing amount of weeks. And then you do that again. And again. And again. And then again until you get an internship or you make a hole in your wall from banging your head against it, whichever comes first. This is clearly not an easy process, but a lot of it is necessary. To be clear, the internships I look for are journalism and writing based. I can not speak for other types of internships, but if you want to, write your own opinion piece. The search for summer work is a wild ride and we all have our own experience with it.
First, there is the process of actually finding an internship or job. I would scrutinize every internship that looks like it is interesting and/or something that I could do. At a certain point, I have to apply for internships that I am probably not the most qualified for, but I have to just think of myself as an underdog. Through my Brandeis login, I can look at Handshake for some interesting opportunities. I put in the field I am interested in, the type of job I want, location, and many great opportunities pop up. It’s where I have gotten some previous internships, so give it a shot. The most popular internship websites out there are Linkedin and Indeed. Personally, I find Indeed to be a more digestible website with better organization. Linkedin often has too many ads when looking for internships (but feel free to connect with me on Linkedin, we all know that networking is important). When looking at all of these days, I have some days where I find some perfect opportunities, which makes me feel so grateful these websites exist. Other days, I am constantly refreshing the websites waiting for something new to pop up. It is all a dice roll, I never know when a company will post their listing. I can also search on Google for the type of internship/job I want, as they may just be on the company’s website. I would spend hours just looking for something. It is stressful, but it can lead to finding some great listings.
After the research comes the actual applying, which is a challenge in and of itself. You have to have the resume locked and loaded, first of all. I always feel like I have to do some tweaking on mine so that companies can tell that I am their perfect candidate, but it is always at the ready. Then there is a dreaded cover letter. If it weren’t for cover letters, I would be applying to jobs left and right without hesitation. Come to think of it, that is probably the exact reason why cover letters exist; they weed out the lazy to find the serious candidates. I have to share what feels like everything I have ever done that is remotely related to the position so that the company sees why they should hire me. I have to express my enthusiasm in ways that sometimes require me to use the thesaurus for words like “interested”, “excited” and “passionate.” While I have a basic layout that I find to be useful for cover letters, I always have to change a lot of sentences to curate my interest and experience for that specific company. To be clear, through my playful criticism of cover letter writing, I understand its importance. After all, cover letters are what allow me to shine and show why I am a hard worker. But at the end of the day, some of the most necessary activities can be the hard ones.
In some (many) situations, the application is the end of the journey. After no response after applying weeks ago, it is safe to assume there were just other better candidates and it was not meant to be. However, there could be a positive response. This leads to the next “fun” stage of job applications: interviews. The time where I suddenly forget what words are yet I can not stop talking. I try not to stress, but of course I do. I just have to remind myself of everything I wrote in my cover letter as a confidence boost. I believe all of those words, and that is why the interviewer should be lucky to speak to me. Personally, I have only experienced Zoom interviews. I spend 10 minutes before hand setting everything up, making sure my internet is smooth, my background is normal, I’m dressed nicely from the chest up and that my parents know I do not exist to them for the next 30-ish minutes. Then, the interview commences. At the core, most interviews have the same questions. What should I know about you? Why did you apply for this job? Why should we hire you? I prepare for these questions, and I take care of them somewhat smoothly. Then there are unique questions where I have to think of answers on the fly. When have you shown your skills as a leader? What struggles have you faced as a writer? What are your three favorite albums? Honesty, I never know what to expect. My brain freezes while my mouth starts moving and I power through. On the positive side, they have improved my speaking skills, my presentability and my knowledge of myself. However, on the negative side, they can be stressful, cause me to doubt myself and leave me with worry afterwards. I know I have to work through it, and they bring me one step closer to an opportunity.
Then there’s the worst part of the whole process: the waiting. It is the worst part because there is nothing to prepare for and it is completely out of my control. It is the part where I constantly refresh my emails. It is the part where I look through Linkedin to see if anyone else has put the role on their Linkedin page so that I can confirm that the company hired someone else. Ok, that may be spiraling, but there is not much to do while waiting. I try to avoid thinking about it too much. That just leads to me rewatching “Sex and the City” to avoid thinking. Carrie Bradshaw had it so easy as a writer. This is a stressful time, and that makes me question everything I did in the application, interview and my entire life. Sometimes the waiting pays off and there’s good news that I can shout from the rooftops. Other times, more often, than not, nothing happens. The company flat-out ghosts me and I have to realize on my own that waiting is not doing anything. Or, I get the dreaded email that says something to the effect of “At this time, we have decided to not move forward with your application” And that’s when I turn into an emotional pile of mush. No one likes the feeling of rejection. So what happens after this? The cycle starts over. Research, apply, interview, wait. Research, apply, interview, wait. Over and over and over again. That’s just the lifecycle of applications.
As one might be able to tell by this article, I have had positive and negative experiences with the applications for internships. I have had some great internships where I got to show off my talents and gained a lot of experience and bylines. However, I often wonder what could have been with opportunities I was rejected from. The beauty of it all is that everytime I send in an application, I learn more about the process and that can prepare me more for the next time I apply for an internship. Now, at the beginning of this article, I referenced the need for summer internships. However, the summer is not the only time for an internship. While my schoolwork is very important, there are still a lot of fall and spring internships out there. There may not be the pressures of summer productivity, but the pressures for building up the resume for a future career is still important. It is all an endless loop of applications. So what is my main advice? Try to keep your head up. All of this internship applying gets me down from time to time, but I have to remind myself of a couple things. I am smart. I am qualified. Any company would be lucky to hire me. As the band Chumbawamba sang, “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.” For all we know, they were singing about internship applications.