Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

If at first you don’t succeed…

Relax, it’s not really a big deal.

The post-abroad internship search stress is almost impossible to escape. Like a poorly quoted young adult novel, it creeps up on you slowly and then crashes all at once. You can almost feel insecurity radiating off of every other junior, all committed to the notion that any student without an internship set up before spring break might as well just give up now. While this is not the case, most students take it as fact through some sort of elusive group think that I have yet to understand. This mentality slowly begins to penetrate the minds of even the most stable kids, causing many restless nights. These nights are often followed by days of scrolling through endless job postings and mindlessly applying to any opportunity with enough street cred by copy and pasting the same cover letter with a few buzzwords switched out over and over.

This routine is all too common and tends to close the door on any type of rational thought. People in this state, including myself at one point, genuinely believe that if one is without a top tier internship, they are a failure. Which simply cannot be true if you take into account how few famous, household success stories actually held formal internships. And to make matters worse, no one even pays internships much thought until the people around them do, forcing students into a competition no one signed up for. It becomes less about professional growth and more into a struggle to keep up.

The struggle is often supplemented with daily updates between friends, sounding a bit like this:

  • “This morning I got an email inviting me to interview with (insert top tier bank here)!”
  • “Just finished my second round with (insert trendy start up here). I think it went really well.”
  • I think I’m just going to work for (insert mildly successful family friend here)’s company.”

And while the updates build many people’s confidence up, they only bring them down more when out-of-the-blue rejections come flying back in their face. For many, this is the first time where something wasn’t handed easily to them, or that they had to deal with rejection in the first place. But these are the updates that many friends don’t end up hearing, which is the main facilitator of the group internship stress.

Often, these rejections translate into even longer sleepless nights and dry-eyed applications the following morning. Not to say that a little push is necessarily bad, after all, that push is what forced me to apply to my current internship. However, there is something to be said for incessant stress to the point of overexertion for the sake of keeping up with the crowd. To be honest, no one really cares what stage of the internship process you’re at, or even if you get one in the end. If it’s really a popularity contest of who has the best employer, people will be too focused on themselves in the first place to even notice. Secondly, nothing good ever happened from a lack of sleep. My theory is this: you’re going to end up fine anyway, so why embarrass your future self with memories of you freaking out for nothing? It’s not worth it and way too cringey. Allow yourself to take pushes to work harder when you need to, and a break when you need it more. Because I promise, getting back on a good sleep schedule and trying to block out embarrassing memories of you stressing for no reason is much harder than landing any internship.