Fresh Perspective | Pressures of finding an internship

Fresh Perspective is a biweekly blog about typical college experiences made strange by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Julia Smeltzer, Senior Staff Writer

Every morning when I wake up, I open my phone and check social media as I lay in bed for an extra thirty minutes. I also check my messages to see what I missed from my friends during my night’s sleep. However, as I’m approaching my senior year of college, I now wake up and check LinkedIn and Indeed in search of an internship. And lately, I’ve woken up disappointed.

As a college junior, there is consistent pressure to get an internship. You see classmates get excited over their upcoming internships and your student email gets bombarded with Handshake notifications and information about the career fair. There is an unspoken “rule” that by your junior year of college, you should have landed an internship, which is a little terrifying.

Throughout our many years growing up in the education system, we’re told that there is a set path we must follow. We graduate from high school, attend a four-year university, get an internship, then enter the workforce for the rest of our lives. But what happens if we can’t find an internship? Are we doomed for life? That is what it feels like.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve applied to at least 20 internships for the summer and fall. I have received rejections from two and have yet to hear back from the others. The last couple of months of internship searching has left me feeling hopeless as these job postings completely ghost me. I know I am not the only one in this situation, as multiple of my friends are having the same trouble finding an internship. But as people around me lock down an internship, I can’t help but feel like I am setting myself up for complete and utter failure for the rest of my life if I can’t find an internship before my senior year of college.

I feel a little better about this process since I’ve already had an internship in the fall semester of my junior year, but as my resumé remains a little short, will future employers even want to hire me if I don’t have enough experience? Being a communications major can lead me anywhere I want to go in the workforce, as it has many different fields and subcategories out there to pursue. But sometimes I feel like that makes it a little harder for me. My friends who are STEM majors have a pretty set and defined path for what their life after college looks like, but having a major that is so open-ended leaves me feeling worried that I might not find my path in life or that it might take me a lot longer than others to figure out.

Being a college student means there is an endless amount of pressure put on our shoulders to follow the set path of finding an internship, graduating and entering the workforce right away. Soon, you might find out that that path isn’t for you. Some people may travel after graduation, take a gap year then go back to school for something completely new or enter the workforce. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve considered dropping out of school and moving to a small European town to live a simple life. However, as I’ve found a passion for communications and journalism over the past three years, I’m eager to pursue a career in that field.

No matter if you’ve found an internship or not, you are going to be okay. Don’t let the overwhelming pressures of being a college student get to your head and keep you from enjoying the present moment. As I am sitting here worried about an internship and my future job, I’m missing out on enjoying this exact moment. I am sitting in my college room in a house I share with my three best friends, writing yet another post for The Pitt News, which I love to do. Everything will work out at some point, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

So, as I wake up each morning and check Linkedin, Indeed and Handshake — as I’m sure many of you do too — it is good to remember that everyone’s path in college is different. You might get an internship, or you might not, and that is okay. Embrace the present moment, enjoy the time you have left in college, and don’t let the pressure of the future overwhelm you. The future will always be waiting for you, so live in the moment now.