Opinion: Don't Get Stuck With Summertime Sadness: Internships

Before college, summers were three months of chilling by the pool or working at the hip, local café for fun. Jobs were  optional and even if we needed extra cash, our options were not limited to jobs related to our career ambitions. Fast forward to junior year of college: working as a lifeguard is no longer an option. My friends and I are all scrambling for internships or any jobs that are semi-related to our futures. All that matters when it comes to a summer job is that it looks good on a resume.

I am in a pickle. I currently work at a local café where I love all my coworkers and the customers who come in on a regular basis. However, working as a barista and ringing people up on the register has absolutely nothing to do with my future dream of becoming a teacher. When it comes to applying for jobs my senior year, I know that “Barista at Fuel” won’t get me closer to getting a full time teaching job. I’ve been searching for summer teaching jobs, and while these opportunities are plentiful, only a handful truly appeal to me.

The high praise of being an intern. GIF courtesy of cfnml / Tumblr

On the other hand, it appears that my friends who are in CSOM or on the pre-med track have it harder. Throughout the year, they are constantly looking for internships, attending interview after interview or seeking out a lab position. Luckily for me I’m able to work as a student teacher during my practicums throughout the year. Even if I don’t have an internship or apply for a teaching job for the summer, I am still able to gain practical experience through the Lynch School. Unfortunately for my friends, A&S and CSOM do not offer such opportunities.

If we lived in an ideal world, I would say the best way to spend college summers is to travel around the world. However, since getting hired after college is important, one cannot neglect finding an internship.  Some of my friends acknowledge that they aren’t looking to have fun during the summer, but need the cash. Others aren’t too concerned with money and are open to finding any job.  However, what I suggest is that for the first two summers of college, take your time to travel. For those concerned about travel costs, trust me, I’ve been there. My friends and I looked for the cheapest hostels, Groupons and any sort of deal we could find to make our trips exponentially cheaper. Even if you cannot afford to go abroad, I would suggest taking a road trip with friends. Whether it’s around the United States or to a country on the opposite side of the world, make time for yourself to discover who you are, what is out there in the world around you and to realize that what you see in front of you right now might not be everything the world has to offer.

Photo courtesy of Venice! / Facebook

Photo courtesy of Venice! / Facebook

The summer after my sophomore year, I was struggling to find a summer teaching job. Most of the jobs required me to be available from the beginning of June to the end of July. But, I had signed up to study abroad in Venice, Italy for the month of June. After many internal debates and countless Skype sessions with my parents asking me if I absolutely had to study abroad during the summer, I bought my ticket to Venice. While I was unable to find a job after my study abroad session, I had no regrets. Despite having to bum around for the months of July and August, the time I spent under the burning sun and the humid air of Venice were worth it.

While I could have used the extra cash from tutoring or working as a teacher’s assistant, Venice allowed me to be immersed in a whole new culture. Even if I cannot write on my resume that I was able to gain more teaching experience, I can definitely say that I gained more perspective into my own life and into other people’s as well. This new perspective, while not directly related to teaching, allows me to form better relationships with my future students by understanding that they could have a completely different viewpoint from mine.

While I suggest that you don’t become an extra cushion on your couch and watch T.V. all summer long, I think it’s important to keep in mind that it is not the end of the world if you do not get an internship related to your future career. After we graduate from college, there will rarely be a time when we will have three months of break. So, use this time wisely, whether it’s to travel around the world, to go on a volunteer trip or to work for the company you’ve always wanted to work for. Ultimately, as “hippy” and cheesy as this sounds, do what makes you happy, even if being happy means setting up a lemonade stand in the middle of New York City.