As if simply getting into college wasn’t enough, it seemed as though the second I stepped onto the picturesque campus, I needed to focus on the big “F.” No, not that one, but the “Future.” The first step? The dreaded internship.
Spring quarter of sophomore year, I began to feel the peer pressure. Everyone around me talked continuously about their summer internships, and I couldn’t scroll through Facebook without reading excited announcements about…you got it. Internships.
Spending summer in a stuffy office fetching coffee for bossy superiors wasn’t terribly appealing, but I also didn’t want to be jobless after graduating. So I bit the bullet and began to weed through the opportunities the English department sent out. I was pleasantly surprised to find several internships that didn’t sound too painful. Writing, (Basically, what I live for) while being paid? Yes, please. A bubble of excitement formed in my chest. Maybe I could gain some experience without suffering too much.
The excitement didn’t last long. I never heard back from most of the online magazines and local companies I’d applied to. The ones that decided to reply sent nothing but formal letters of polite rejection. Still, I remained hopeful. I would get at least one interview; I just had to remain patient.
My hope shattered into a thousand pieces when I received a reply for the position I’d wanted the most–writing stories for Microsoft. A company like that on my resume meant I would go places. Perfect could not begin to describe this opportunity. I could already see my name splashed across novels and bestseller lists. But one look at an email letter and my heart plummeted into the fiery depths of hell: I’d been rejected.
Visions of fame and fortune were quickly replaced by one of me on a street corner holding a cup for spare change. I knew I was being ridiculous but couldn’t stop. Everything set me off; I went to the movies and became irrationally angry over a trailer for The Intern, convinced it played solely as a cruel joke.
Two depressed weeks later I received an email from a nonprofit I’d forgotten about requesting a phone interview. In that moment, hope was back. I scoured the Internet for interview tips, practiced answering questions and spent days reading everything I could about this company. The organization advocated for global poverty relief and the internship would be editing articles on the topic. Who needed Microsoft when I could change the world?
The day of the interview came and with shaking hands, I answered the phone. Surprisingly, I answered every question with an impossible ease. I truly believed in the organization’s values and every word I said. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I belonged there and hung up with a huge grin. Unless, I was sorely mistaken, I’d just landed the position.
I was right; days later, the interviewer offered me a three month internship. It took a second for the words to set in since I was so used to reading “We’re sorry to inform you…” Three rereads later, a smile spread across my face so wide it’d surely strain my muscles. I had an internship!
They sent the details: required office hours, dress code and other requirements. In the hazy midst of reading everything and bragging to everybody I knew about my new summer plans, I came across something that sounded strange. I had to help with fundraising by writing letters to family and friends–that seemed fine. But the next sentence told me I’d be required to raise at least $500. Required? That sounded suspicious.
My overly excited brain merely glossed over this. $500 wasn’t that much. Besides, I’d do anything. It was my only offer and after all, I didn’t want to end up on the street corner in the future. When the excitement died down, however, I began to think more rationally. What exactly did the $500 requirement mean? So I asked and learned I needed to raise the money in order to complete the internship.
Suspicious, indeed. Everything was suddenly thrown into question. Why would they require interns to raise a specific (and not to mention large) amount? Was this a scam? I did some research and confirmed my hunch, finding countless negative reviews warning students against interning there.
Part of me still wanted to accept the position; I couldn’t reject my only offer. In the end, though, I declined. I’d realized that if I’d easily found those reviews, so could any future employer. My experience with this nonprofit would do nothing to help me, so why should I allow myself to be taken advantage of?
So my summer began internship-less. I continued to apply everywhere, but screened the companies more carefully. Was I glad I’d rejected the position? Not particularly, especially as I listened to my friends chatter endlessly about their experiences. Knowing I’d done the right thing was little consolation and my anxiety over never gaining experience worsened.
Flash forward to the end of August. Déjà vu hit me as I received an interview with an online magazine. I went through the motions somewhat detached, convinced history would repeat itself. So imagine my surprise when I was offered a position as a student writer. I skeptically read everything I could about them and after finding nothing suspicious, I happily accepted.
Just like Goldilocks, it took a while before I finally found the right fit. I’m certainly glad I waited. Will this internship truly be “just right?” I guess I’ll have to wait and find out.