When the Internships Have Sailed
“No, you’re not under-qualified and no your GPA isn’t too low, the professional world just doesn’t want you.”
By Mallory Arnold, Ohio University
So you got the internship of your dreams.
All it took was a little applying online, and within a few weeks you were waltzing through New York City in a professional outfit, grinning at how fantastic you are at adult-ing.
Well, good for you! You good for nothing lucky little-
OK, so finding an internship isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and Twinkies.
When you’re in college, you’re borderline learning about how to “adult”: buying your own groceries, taking care of yourself when you’re sick and paying for the things you buy. Internships are a logical extension of that growing process—they get you into the professional world without forcing you out of the collegiate one. They are the ideal way to connect yourself to a career and experience your professional field first-hand.
Socially, internships are a lot like tiptoeing into your older sibling’s party to watch how the world works when you get older. Except, a lot of the time, Patty Popular slams the door on you before you can even offer up the amazing punch you brought.
Sometimes going to class everyday and learning about a wide range of irrelevant blabber can make it seem like school is never going to end. The History of Lumberjacks and Mating Habits of Orangutans have nothing to do with your chosen career path, but you sure as hell better pass them.
Because as much as irrelevant courses blow, going to class and getting straight A’s means that you’ll get that dream job at the end of the day. It may be hard work, but after struggling through The Biology of Fruit Flies, an internship is like a lifesaving bridge to the real world. You can see the light on the other side, how shiny and professional the people are. That’s where you are meant to be.
Then all of the sudden, the glimmer is gone. The bridge has a tollbooth, and the worker isn’t interested in the change in your pocket.
“But—I have three quarters, a penny and a stacked resume filled with experience!” you protest.
“Sorry, we appreciate you trying to cross the bridge, but the spot has been filled. Good luck!”
You better take all those “good lucks” and shove them into your pocket for later. You’re gonna need them.
It’s tough being broken up with or failing an exam. But things happen, and you can always bounce back. After all, boys are silly and tests have nothing to do with the real world, right?
But when you open up an email that begins with a polite “Uh, no thank you,” you suddenly realize that the real world might not be has shiny and inviting as you once dreamed.
How is this possible? You went to college, you took classes, you joined clubs for chrissakes. Do you know how difficult it is to join the Cheese of the Month Club when you’re lactose intolerant?
The pressure itself is enough to make you throw up, no cheese needed.
Now, internship-less, when everyone asks your plans for the summer all you can squeak out is a quiet “No idea.” Your parents constantly ask if you’ve been accepted into a summer program yet, and they sometimes throw you passive aggressive nudges.
“Are you sure you’re trying?”
But what your parents don’t understand is that you work more on internship applications than homework. You’ve edited your resume so many times that you can recite it in American Sign Language, and you’re seriously debating adding a “z” on your skills section just to jazz things up.
You stay in on Friday nights scraping away at the web to find job openings, because beer isn’t worth an internship, and it doesn’t taste good.
Your cover letters are beginning to look more like begging letters, and you’re dangerously close to adding a “pretty please” at the end.
Sometimes you dig so deep into the internship search that you consider applying for positions in Iceland or Siberia, because maybe they’ll want you there. What? It could happen.
But even after you’ve basically branded your resume on your lower back, hoping a tramp stamp full of experience might attract attention, a rejection email arrives just on time to crush your dreams.
No one told you that going to college and doing what you were told to do doesn’t guarantee a job. You were taught how to prepare for college, how to prepare for interviews, how to prepare for careers, but no one taught you what to do after hearing “no.”
No one gave you a cheat sheet on how to react when you realize that no, you’re not under-qualified and no your GPA isn’t too low, the professional world just doesn’t want you.
So what do you do when you get that rejection?
Slump away and hide in your bed for hours.
Drink. A lot. (Of diet coke… duh, people)
Write a very strongly worded email back, using vocabulary that will surely impress them but definitely wouldn’t be approved by mom.
Give up and become a professional bird whistler.
Move back home with your dog.
Getting rejected by an internship does not mean the world doesn’t want you. It just means that after shifting through thousands of applicants, someone else is more suited for the job. It’s nothing personal.
Being in college can sometimes feel like this little bubble, a safe haven for people growing and learning how to become normally functioning humans in society. The “outside” world doesn’t have it in for you. No one is specifically saying no to you to keep you from joining a profession forever. It’s important to realize that.
It’s easy to feel unwanted and scared of the future when someone in the professional world says “no.” It’s terrifying to think that we’re unprepared for when we get spit out into god knows where after we graduate.
But every time you hear “no” you’re preparing yourself for that final “yes,” and it’s gonna be well worth the wait.