Alongside the joy bubbling up inside of you because of the warm weather outside is the fear that you have not emailed your new boss in a while or that your scheduled flight home will only give you three days of freedom before you are sucked into a cubicle for the rest of your summer. Internship season is upon us and it has made the majority of us both paranoid and exhausted from the trouble it creates.
Let’s start with just getting an internship. Although major companies across the country offer many different types of internship opportunities, the process of acquiring one is almost always the same. Once you fill out an application and send in your résumé, the wonderful waiting game begins. The excitement of hitting “send” on your application quickly fades as a few days turn into a week and a week turns into a month of silence. Questions start popping into your head about whether you filled out all of the forms correctly and whether you should have signed up for badminton when you had the chance to bolster the individuality of your résumé.
Even though all these feelings are completely natural, they shouldn’t be. Why should I have to send another email, call 12 more times and feel like I am not good enough or smart enough to deserve some sort of response? Why do I have to wait for that one right moment to call just as he walks in the door or email him the minute he checks his Gmail account to hear back from someone who needs someone like me to work for him? I am a human being who deserves the same amount of dignity and respect as a person who has more professional experience under his belt. I deserve an answer, even if it’s, “I’m sorry, we currently do not have room on our staff for you right now.”
It is absolutely pathetic that some companies take over a month to make contact with you and that you are just supposed to accept that this is the way it is. The people who are supposed to be looking at these applications make the big bucks because of their supposed fantastic customer service skills and superb time management strategies, and yet they cannot find the two minutes it takes to email or call you back. This system forces dejected undergraduate students to sadly log back onto Experience.com and try to find something else after wasting a month on the company that did not want to spend a minute on you. Now we must settle for internships that may be unrelated to what we are actually interested in because they are all that is left, and you don’t want to be that woman who couldn’t find something to bolster her credentials this summer. Once you finally find a place that wants you, however, a whole set of new problems arises as you walk through the office doors.
If, for whatever miraculous reason, you actually secure the job and begin working there, you quickly learn there is a professional hierarchy within the workplace and you have just stepped into its bottom slot. You become errand girl, coffee boy or the genderless, soulless intern. All of a sudden, a lot of employees are introducing themselves to you and acting like they want to be your friend, until you realize all they really want is for you to do the worst parts of their jobs for them.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked to make 200 copies of something which turns out to be the wrong page or to make a quick run to Starbucks with 41 orders in my hands. What experience is this actually gaining for us to use in our professional futures? After all of that work to land this supposed dream job, I personally believe that they should be begging us to work for them. We are the only ones who would tolerate the dirty work others who have more experience than us would not put up with—all because of that one line on the résumé which doesn’t say anything about coffee and copying. Instead, I am asked to shred what looks like thousands of documents from the ’80s and try not to start crying as I continue to tell myself that this job will help me make millions one day.
After a long and difficult year filled with papers, tests and too many extracurricular events to count, summer should be a time to recuperate. We should be able to lounge around at the beach and take a weekly yoga class without feeling like we are wasting our time. If we don’t take the time to have fun and breathe once in a while during our early 20s, at what other point in our lives will we be given the chance? I, for one, don’t want to have to look back on my young adult life and tell myself that all of those hours spent doing mindless tasks throughout my summers were worth it because I will be able to retire at 65 and enjoy my life… then.
I know that some part of you wishes that you could go on spontaneous road trips in the middle of the week with your friends from high school but that you feel like you have to work this summer so that you don’t fall behind everyone else. You start making excuses in your mind about how this year’s horrible summer internship experience might not end up being so bad or that this summer’s boss could give you a great letter of recommendation which helps your application make it to the CEO of Nike’s desk next year. No matter what you might be thinking, I say we all take this summer off for some much needed R&R.
Seniors, you are about to start working full-time in the real professional world—you deserve a break in-between finishing up your thesis and jumping headfirst into office life. Freshmen, you really don’t even know what you want to do with your lives yet—let yourselves use the last summer of your teen years wisely and do something stupid and crazy. Sophomores and juniors, let go of all of your worries and fears for the future and take a moment to remember one wonderful phrase: YOLO. Let YOLO be your mantra this summer, and you will be just fine.