With just a couple of weeks left in the semester, summer is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Personally, as the stress of finals approaches, the thought of no more schoolwork and instead sunshine, beach days and time with my family is getting me through the final stretch. That is, until someone asks me what I’m doing this summer and I have to reply with, “I’m not so sure.” While summer was once a time devoted solely to fun and relaxation, since starting college, it has become a stress-inducing topic as myself and my peers scramble to find internships, jobs or opportunities that will give us a head start in our professional lives, make us some money or simply just pass the time.
As soon as I stepped foot in my house for winter break, the main topic of conversation between my parents and me was summer internships: Who can I network with to find a summer internship? What websites are ideal for internship searching? What field of work would be a good fit for me to get started in? While I am fortunate enough to have engaged parents who encourage me to get a head start in my future career, the constant internship discussions were extremely stressful and overwhelming, especially after I had just finished finals. “Summer” became somewhat of a trigger word for me. I promised my parents and myself that I would start applying for internships after winter break was over, but as soon as the spring semester began, I became swept away with school work, a capella rehearsals and more, and suddenly, internship applications ended up at the very back of my mind. I found it extremely difficult to make time for internship applications in the midst of my busy schedule, but after settling in, I found time here and there to scroll through Handshake and apply to several internship postings. After I applied to a substantial amount of internships, I decided to take a step back and wait for companies and organizations to follow up with me. It is currently the end of April, and I have yet to hear anything back from about three quarters of the jobs I applied to.
Although I know that an internship the summer before junior year is not completely essential, I think that getting some experience in a professional setting would be extremely beneficial for me, as I am still unsure about what specific career path I want to pursue. Therefore, I am currently rushing to make any professional connections I can, whether they be with my parents’ friends, Colgate alumni, etc., with the hopes that it will provide me with some sort of summer opportunity. Ultimately, a time that is meant to be about celebrating the end of a stressful school year has become filled with anxiety and pressure.
Additionally, the summer internship topic creates a sense of competition amongst students, in my opinion. I am not a very competitive person by nature, but in the context of internships, paranoia gets the best of me; I worry about my peers finding internships and getting their “foot into the door” of the professional world while I fall behind. I find myself comparing my academic skills, interview skills, social skills, etc., with those around me, as I wonder why a particular friend of mine was able to find an internship while I was not. For this reason, instead of the “What are you doing this summer?” being a nice conversation starter, I have personally found it to breed immense stress and occasional tension.
Since I am aware that a full-time internship this summer may not pan out for me, I have begun looking for job openings near my hometown at coffee shops, clothing stores, gyms, etc. However, this has also proven to be quite difficult, as many small, local businesses do not post job openings online, and many do not want to hire a college student who can only work for a couple of months. I am currently planning on going door-to-door to local businesses in my town when I get home to see if they’re hiring, which means that all I can do right now is wait in nervous anticipation and hope that something works out when I get home.
While I will not deny that I am excited for warm weather and a break from academics, the stress of the internship and job search has created a stigma around summer in my head. However, I think that the negativity that the job search created is extremely irritating; Colgate is an academically rigorous school and students should be able to take a break and relax for the summer without feeling pressure to “make the most of their time.”