Whether you’re looking for experience in business, medicine or any other career path, snagging an internship can be hard. First, you have to consider your major, and then what you really want to do with your degree after college. But wait, you’re only a freshman right? You have loads of time before you have to contemplate the real world.
Not necessarily. Four years fly by, and before you know it, you’ll be graduated and looking for a job. So get exposure and experience now so that in four years, you’ll be confident in your career future. The earlier, the better.
Looking for and applying to internships is a lot like re-applying to college, except you only need two crucial pieces of information: your resume, otherwise referred to as a CV, and a cover letter. Before college, I never had an official resume. So when my sophomore year rolled around and I decided to apply for summer internships, I began crafting and perfecting my resume.
Early in the year, I sought out help from an advisor in my school’s Academic Resource Center. With her help, I created a resume, a profile on the social networking site LinkedIn and example cover letters, which were something I’d only ever heard of on TV.
In the same way that I knew I wanted to study abroad, I also knew I wanted to intern at a publishing company at some point in my college career. Cheesy, I know. But hey, a college kid can dream. Plus, the librarian at my high school was a well-known children’s book author who pulled some strings so I could shadow editors at well-known publishing companies Penguin Random House and Harper Collins. With this experience under my belt, I felt fairly confident that one of these companies would accept me into their internship program.
When May rolled around and I hadn’t received a congratulatory email or phone call, I finally faced the reality that neither company had extended me an offer. It was a fatal blow. My self-esteem plummeted and I felt worthless. I figured, “If they don’t want me, who will?”
It was mid-June when I accepted the defeat of internships, deciding to apply for retail jobs. After a few days of applying and interviewing, I got a job at J. Crew on Madison Avenue. It wasn’t my first choice, but it was something! “Everyone else in the world must have landed their dream internship,” I thought “and here I am working in a clothing store.” I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so dejected.
Although my job at J. Crew provided a steady paycheck, I felt like I was missing something. My mom encouraged me to apply to other internship positions, saying “It can’t hurt!” But the summer internship season had already started, right? I reasoned with my mom saying, “All summer internships operate on a five days a week, 40 hour schedule from June 4 to August 4.” Once again, I was wrong.
To my delight, I discovered alternative internship opportunities on sites like internships.com and indeed.com. I applied to anything and everything that related to an English major and the written word. A few weeks passed. With July 1 around the corner, and no replies or offers, I felt even more defeated.
But then I got an email notifying me that I had a new message on internships.com. Boom! I secured my first internship. And within the next two weeks, I received two more emails that said I had two new messages on indeed.com.
Being an English major has its upsides and its downsides. An upside that I realized from this experience is that I didn’t have to turn any of my three internship offers because I could write from anywhere! And just like that, I felt reinvigorated, luck on my side. And I only thought about the other two publishing companies that turned me down once or twice along the way. Eventually, I realized that it was their loss — not mine.
While the first internship involved working with the founder a non-profit, an organization I never imagined working for, it was a valuable first experience. I feel strongly that it prepared me for the other two internship offers I received that summer.
The second offer was from an up and coming luxury magazine with my very own byline. So awesome. Seeing my work published with my name helped me realize that the roller coaster of emotions I’d experienced over the past few months was all worth it.
And finally, the third offer, from the founder and CEO of an app that has yet to be released, was something a little out of my comfort zone. The position was for not for someone interested in writing and publishing, but more for an individual with an interest in branding and marketing.
I was not opposed to learning new concepts and how they could connect to writing, so I went for it. During the phone interview, my interviewer asked me what I wanted to do, and I responded with what I thought she wanted to hear. I said I wanted to help brand the company and market their app.
I was shocked when she disregarded my answer and asked me what I really — really— wanted to do. This time, I was completely honest, replying, “I want to write.” Pleased with my honesty, she told me that’s what I’ll do. And it was.
I was fortunate enough to finally find something that allowed me to be around people and work in a physical office, which I won’t lie, made me feel super official. In this position, I helped edit media pitches and write blog content for a website still in its developing stages. While I never imagined I’d hear back from this company, let alone join the team, the experience proved to me that getting out of your comfort zone is crucial to growing as a person. So don’t turn down an internship because you think it’s outside of your wheelhouse. Maybe it is, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a valuable experience.
I will confess that I am still in the throes of applying for a 2019 summer internship, but I do have a phone interview arranged for next week, and a huge part of the internship process is patience. If I learned anything last summer it’s that your internship journey is personal and unique. Your experience will differ greatly from that of your friend, who is a math major, or your sibling, who is majoring in biology.
The point is, and I know you’ve heard it before: Try not to compare yourself to other people. It’ll drive you nuts, distracting you from bettering yourself. Take it from me, a college kid who thought they’d never get an internship. But here I am, writing as an intern for StudyBreaks Magazine.
Whether you’re a freshman or senior, I encourage you to start exploring internship opportunities now! The process of searching and applying can be tedious, but in the end, it’s well worth it!