Sydney Sanders is the Opinions & Editorials Editor for the Newswire. She is a senior Philosophy, Politics and the Public and political science double major from Cincinnati.
By this time in my life, I wanted to have at least two internships under my belt and a job offer following my collegiate career. Minimum. My expectations for myself were high, but realistic, or so I believed. Nevertheless, I am sitting here writing this article at the beginning of my senior year, jobless and getting ready for my shift later as a waitress. To say that I was wrong in my expectations is probably an understatement. The thing is though, I’m quite happy with where I am right now, and I’m perfectly fine with being wrong.
The pressure to get as much experience during your time in college is ridiculous, simply put. The reality of it is, we have to make money somehow and most of these so-called ‘elite’ internships or ‘amazing’ opportunities are unpaid, or even cost you money. It’s a little unreasonable to expect twenty-something year old students to just be OK with having absolutely no income except from a student loan. Internships undoubtedly have their benefits, but they are exclusive because not everyone can get them and to those who didn’t get that position you were dying to get, it’s OK.
I’ve applied to countless internships and have even been on too many interviews to count. The ones that were a great fit, however, still have the daunting ‘unpaid position’ fine print at the end of the description. Besides the money aspect of internships though, there is a wildly intense pressure to have one just for the sake of having one. When people ask me what I’ve been up to this summer and I answer with my honest explanation, it’s usually followed with something to the tune of, “Well that’s OK” or “You still have time to figure it all out.” I know I have time, I’m twenty-one years old. Not having the internship of my dreams is OK. I highly doubt that because I spent this past summer building my bank account up I won’t get a great job after college.
Now I’m not trying to say that everyone who did have an internship was wrong or just succumbed to the pressure of today’s world, or anything else dramatic. Internships are a great way to build your resume if you can afford to do so. You have the chance to gain real world and real work experience while you’re still a student and it’s a good way to figure out if you’re headed down the right path for you. Through my major, Philosophy, Politics and the Public, I had the chance to participate in a campaign internship for a class that I was taking my sophomore year. Albeit, I absolutely loathe campaign work, but that’s something I had the privilege of learning early on in my college career because of that internship. The point is though, I had the privilege of working on that campaign for a class.
I’ve had a really great summer working in a restaurant. I’ve been able to make decent money and make even better friends where I work. I’ve spent quality time with friends and family, but I’ve also had much needed time to read and research what I want to do after I graduate. The truth is, I am still figuring out what path is right for me, but I don’t have to have an internship to do that. You can follow your dreams or do amazing things without being at the biggest law firm or at one of the big four accounting firms — all the while being perfectly happy. Everybody has a different path that leads them to their future, so don’t let the pressure of internships discourage you from finding your own.