Getting into college isn’t easy, but you did it — congrats. Don’t get too comfortable, though, because a harder, more tedious application process is on the horizon. I’m talking, of course, about applying for internships.
The time to apply for internships came a lot faster than I thought it would during my freshman year. I had a rough first semester, and I was just getting comfortable at school when my mom called in early December and told me to start looking for internships. I didn’t even know where to start. I went to all the job websites I had ever seen a commercial for, and started bookmarking application after application.
With lingering PTSD from college applications, I dreaded the thought of another application process. I ended up having to (quickly) get past that resentment and applied to roughly 25 internships over the next month.
After meeting deadlines, the next few months were torturous. Emails I’d receive that weren’t an employer getting back to me were like little slaps in the face. No, I don’t care about that sale at Urban Outfitters.
March came, and I finally heard back from one of the companies. We scheduled an interview, and I crushed it. I answered every question perfectly, impressed them with my poise and not to mention, I was dressed to the nines. I got an offer that night, and I interned in the sports department of the local news station. It was exactly what I wanted; I felt like the king of internships.
Sophomore me would come to realize I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Next December came around, and I started applying again. I applied to a bunch of the same places, which I hadn’t heard back from the year before, in addition to new ones. All in all, I probably sent out about 35 to 40 applications. I wasn’t quite as worried this time around because, after all, I was the king of internships, right? Wrong.
I knew I wouldn’t hear back until around March, so I waited, patiently. Then the emails began.
After reviewing your application materials, we’ve decided to continue our search. Your experience and resume are impressive, but we’re looking for people who are more qualified for the position. We wish you the best of luck in your career.
The Company of Your Dreams
What? You can’t deny me. I’m the internship king. You can’t deny the king.
Well, they did, as did every other place I applied. I got email after email that read almost exactly the same as the last. To make matters worse, these rejections started coming right when everyone around me was landing summer internships. Every day I’d have a friend tell me about how great his interview went, or how awesome the company he is interning at was. I smiled and nodded, but inside, I was fuming.
Near the end April, I decided to swallow my pride and email the place I interned during the last summer, since they told me the door was always open to come back.
The door, apparently, had closed. I waited too long to reach out, and they had already hired their interns.
I returned home for the summer feeling dejected. I have a job relevant to my major, writing for a website three days a week, but it’s my second summer doing it. It pays, and it’s always nice to have money, but it’s not something new to put on my resume and, frankly, it’s not all that exciting.
I’m starting to realize getting an internship takes a lot more effort than I thought, and I got really, really lucky last summer. That luck caused me to be comfortable in how I apply to internships when I clearly shouldn’t have been.
After talking with some advisors, and friends who were able to secure internships this summer, I’ve found that applications are more than just a resume and a generic cover letter. I’m learning you have to research the company and write a new cover letter each time you send one. Now, I understand the importance of letting employers know you want them and why you want them and no one else (even if that last part isn’t true).
Getting rejected has definitely been a learning experience, but not quite the experience I was looking to get out of this summer. Here’s to hoping for better luck in the future. I’m looking at you, 2016.